People Living with HIV/AIDS (PLWHA) Victoria have named Olympic medallist Ji Wallace as ambassador for their ENUF campaign to combat HIV stigma.
The gymnast revealed his HIV status in the Star Observer in August, 12 years after winning a silver medal for trampoline at the Sydney Olympics in 2000.
Wallace said he hopes his work with the ENUF campaign will help dispel the stigmatisation of HIV-positive people, and by revealing his status publicly, show how HIV can affect everyone.
“Since I spoke openly about being HIV-positive, I have been flooded with good wishes from people who applaud what I have done,” Wallace said.
“But why should being honest and open about living with HIV be such a big deal?
“HIV stigma discourages people from testing regularly for HIV, it creates barriers within families and communities and it makes positive people feel unworthy and unwanted.”
The ENUF campaign will focus on collecting stories of people experiencing HIV stigma to use in posters, billboards and other advocacy messages.
Approximately 22,000 Australians are living with HIV, with an estimated 2,500 more who do not know they are HIV-positive, according to PLWHA.
The sixth and latest HIV Futures report found over 55 percent of participants were afraid to tell potential partners their HIV status in case they were rejected.
The 2009 research surveyed more than 1100 HIV-positive people nationally.
ENUF is a crowd-sourced Australian campaign that seeks to gather stories about HIV stigma and resilience, quotes from which will be used to create campaign messages such as posters, billboards and advocacy messages to shine a light on HIV stigma.
The campaign was first launched in July but also piqued international interest earlier in the year.
PLWHA executive officer Brent Allen showcased the project at July’s International AIDS Conference in Washington D.C.
Wallace will launch the campaign on October 16 in Melbourne at the Australasian HIV Conference.