Fans of the TV series True Blood will be familiar with ‘shapeshifters’: where a spunky young guy is suddenly able to transform into a dog or a female beauty becomes a fawn.
While these bizarre transformations might amuse viewers, some of us are living with a far more malevolent shapeshifter in the form of the human immunodeficiency virus, which has so far proven incredibly elusive of a cure.
HIV has been able to mutate to make current treatments less effective, and its complex and novel qualities inside the human body have meant that a vaccine or cure is still a long way off.
Over my 26 years of living with HIV I have seen many changes. From the horrors of seeing so many friends get sick and die in the ‘80s and ‘90s (and wondering whether you would be next), to a time of great optimism in the mid-90s when a new generation of treatments offered great promise of maybe bringing the virus to a sudden halt.
Sadly, this has not happened. Australia is experiencing rises in HIV infections – with over 1000 annually.
Many who have lived with HIV for a long time have started to experience a range of co-morbidities which, researchers are now suggesting, means we may age prematurely. The virus has been doing damage to the body’s organs, even in the presence of effective treatments and an undetectable viral load.
So the work of the Victorian AIDS Council/Gay Men’s Health Centre (VAC/GMHC) is still crucial to the continuing fight against HIV.
Whether it is in our preventative work – to try and reduce future transmissions of HIV, or in providing care and assistance to a growing number of HIV positive people, many of whom are living with a greater burden of illness, increased frailties, mental health issues and/or financial hardship, we need the community’s support to meet these needs.
This World AIDS Day, December 1, our volunteers will be handing out red ribbons to raise awareness and funds to assist with our work. Some people have tired of the ritual of buying a ribbon each year thinking that “HIV is fixed now”, or that a small donation won’t make much difference.
Unfortunately the virus will be with us for many years to come and we cannot forget about its impact, much and all as we would like to.
Money raised on this day makes a big contribution to the organisation’s David Williams Fund, which provides assistance to people with HIV who are living with financial stress, or in need of a fresh start with study grants.
You can make a donation to VAC/GMHC red ribbon volunteers out on the streets of the CBD on December 1, or by visiting Your gift really will help change lives this World AIDS Day.

– David Menadue
VAC/GMHC vice-president

Sorry, but this cheap Liberal political stunt of suddenly saying “it’s all about intersex” as the biggest issue facing “the gay community” does not wash. It is just a cheap diversionary tactic to try and divide us, and put us off track.
Intersex people make up approx 0.05 percent of the population, and gays and lesbians approx 10 percent.
In Australia, there would be approx 11,000 intersex, and 2.2 million gays.
I think with the extremely high suicide rate amoung gay teens, with issues of self-esteem, and marriage discrimination now emerging as a surprising major factor (La Trobe University, 2010), then I would say that equal rights for 2.2 million gays and lesbians is definitely both an urgent issue, and one that should be fixed before we try and get too advanced with ‘minority within a minority’ intersex issues as the flagship issue for our whole gay community, as the Liberals are suggesting.
Thanks Liberals, but no thanks. Go back to Hillsong and ask them for a better tactic to come up with for you.

– David

Any time an MP bothers to open their mouth and mention our elders and the horrific fear they endure in silence every day, I can only applaud.
I was delighted to hear these comments from [Liberal MPs] Warren Entsch and Teresa Gambaro. I frankly doubt that marriage equality will do anything much to change the lives of those in their 70s and 80s and 90s who are returning to the closet and de-gaying their houses for the home care workers.
When will we march in the streets for them. One day it will be you in that nursing home.
– Jo

The Australian Sex Party in no way supports slavery. Our policies are designed to protect and support sex workers, while clearly drawing a distinction between those who choose to pursue such a career and those who are exploited and abused by others.
It’s a shame that Maltzahn seems unable or unwilling to recognise that distinction.
– Marian

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