Saturday, December 1 is World AIDS Day both here in Australia and in more than 190 countries around the world. At this time, folks are encouraged to show their support of organisations like the Victorian AIDS Council and for people who are living with HIV. A practical way you can show your support for people living with and those affected by HIV is by simply wearing a Red HIV/AIDS Awareness Ribbon.

The unique Victorian Red Ribbon was the first and the forerunner for the multitude of ribbons that have proliferated within the community since the early 1990s.  It is different from most other ribbons as it is without the loop of ribbon at the top.

The ribbon was designed this way to stand out from the crowd and was, in fact, designed by a Melburnian, Brent Lacey. Brent had seen lengths of red ribbon wound around trees and lamp-posts in New York commemorating and celebrating the lives of men and women lost to HIV/AIDS.  His then partner was HIV positive and he wanted to celebrate his life and designed the unique Victorian Red Ribbon to raise both funds and awareness in our and the wider community. The ribbon is designed as an inverted ‘V’ so that when a cure for HIV is discovered the ribbon can be turned upside down to be a symbolic ‘V’ for victory over HIV.

The visible safety pin where you pin the ribbon onto your jacket or shirt is an important symbol in itself.  In the early days before the cause of HIV had been discovered, the safety pin was used by people wanting potential partners to know they only had safe sex: safety pin – safe sex!  That’s why the safety pin remains visible today on the Red Ribbon as a reminder to always use protection like condoms and lube when having sex.

On Saturday December 1, ribbons will be distributed by volunteers around the city and in a number of suburban shopping centres.  At the Positive Living Centre, 51 Commercial Road in Prahran, the annual World AIDS Day Memorial will be held at 2.00pm.  People will gather to remember those who have been lost to HIV and to celebrate with those living with the virus.  Jon Jackson and the Melbourne Gay & Lesbian Chorus will be singing and Luke Gallagher will be the master of ceremonies.  Sections of the AIDS Memorial Quilt will be on display and there will be a time for quiet reflection and the lighting of candles.

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