Locals and visitors are being asked to look after the health and wellbeing of themselves and each other during this year’s Mardi Gras season.

Launched by ACON, the new five-week campaign Together We Can will focus on street safety, HIV, sexual health, alcohol and drugs.

The culture of care that existed in the GLBT community would be reinforced and strengthened by the campaign, ACON CEO Stevie Clayton said.

“Mainstream health and welfare providers don’t always meet the specific needs of the GLBT community,” she said.

“In response to this, our community has developed what we call a ‘culture of care’, which is essentially a widespread practice of looking out for each other.”

The campaign will roll out in both GLBT and mainstream media in the first week of February, targeting a number of different GLBT community groups.

The first message will be based around the prevention of sexually transmitted infections, namely HIV and syphilis, and will also work to tackle HIV-related discrimination.

Clayton said ACON was encouraging people to change their attitudes towards HIV, understand that HIV is a virus and not a person, and to take a stand against HIV discrimination.

“This is a very important issue for thousands of people in NSW and during this landmark Mardi Gras festival, it’s vital to ensure that everyone in our community is valued, above all else, for the person they are,” she said.

“After all, that’s what motivated us to take to the streets of Sydney in 1978 and what should continue to inspire us 30 years later.”

The health and wellbeing messages that follow will relate to improving lesbian sexual health, taking action against homophobic violence and reducing the harms associated with alcohol and drug use.

Contribute to the community by becoming an ACON volunteer, or getting involved in the ACON Mardi Gras float. For more information go to www.acon.org.au/together or email Kim at [email protected]

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