Geoff Field will be dressing in red for the Walk for AIDS later this month – but he’d wear a Carmen Miranda fruit bowl and bikini made of red ribbons too if it helped raise awareness of HIV in Australia.
The 2Day FM newsreader is among the celebrities who have signed up to keep HIV alive in the public consciousness – already crowded with various coloured ribbons and charities.
“It’s fabulous that breast cancer and multiple sclerosis are in the public eye, but we need to get HIV back up there again. Its prominence in the mainstream media seems to have slipped,” Field said.
“The radicalism of the 80s isn’t needed like it was then, but we still need to make young people aware of safe sex and slamming that message home so they don’t become complacent.”
On his own program, the Kyle and Jackie O Show, Field will talk about the walk and World AIDS Day with more than a million mostly-young weekly listeners. He hopes nobody is left with the impression a life on anti-retrovirals is an option.
“I’ve certainly known people with HIV and I admire their tenacity. And I admire the way they get through their lives,” he said. “But there are some shocking side effects to the medications for some people.”
Long after the heyday of popular support for AIDS charities, Field has no doubts the associated stigma is a thing of the past.
“I come from that generation who went through the Grim Reaper campaign, when it was a whole new thing. You’ve still got the Pauline Hanson fringe type people, but I think most people these days are quite sympathetic,” he said.
“We just want to see people helped and given the right medication and be able to live their lives as normally as they can.”
Field is walking not just in support for people living with HIV in Australia, but the millions overseas who don’t have ready access to the medication.
“I’ll try in my own little way. I think it’s a very important issue,” he said.
“I’m usually a very quiet, everyday newsreader, but I’ll do anything for publicity. I’m really pleased to be able to use that to promote good causes.”
Organisers of the walk haven’t suggested the Carmen Miranda outfit yet, but whatever Field wears, it’ll be a lot more conservative than some of the 2Day FM stunts he’s been forced to do for much less worthy causes.
Registrations for the annual Walk For AIDS on Sunday 25 November are now open. It will take place in the Royal Botanic Gardens. Registration costs $20, to be shared between the Bobby Goldsmith Foundation, ACON and PLWHA. Details: www.walkforaids.org.

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