On World AIDS Day, the ACT Council of Social Service (ACTCOSS) said that we must continue to raise awareness in the community about the issues surrounding HIV and AIDS, to show support for people living with HIV and to commemorate people who have died.
ACTCOSS CEO Dr Emma Campbell said: “This year’s World AIDS Day theme is ‘Now, more than ever’. It calls on us to continue to recognise the importance of World AIDS Day as we deal with a different global pandemic.”
World AIDS Day encourages Australians to educate themselves and others about HIV; to take action to reduce the transmission of HIV by promoting prevention strategies; and to ensure that people living with HIV can participate fully in the life of the community, free from stigma and discrimination.
Dr Campbell said: “ACTCOSS was grateful to attend the Meridian World AIDS Day event on 29 November and to show support for those living with HIV in the Canberra community.
“At the event, attendees heard from people with lived experience who reminded us of the importance of fighting stigma and connecting with community.
“The historic and ongoing advocacy by people living with HIV teaches us important lessons about the need for strong, inclusive public health responses, and the importance of fighting stigma and discrimination every day.
“Last month, ACOSS and AFAO released a report, ‘Learning from one pandemic to live with another‘, on the way that both the HIV and COVID-19 pandemics have shaken societies globally.
“Learning from the HIV experience and response, the report recommends that the Federal Government work more closely with community leaders and organisations representing people facing higher risks.
“We recognise the immense achievements of people living with HIV to reduce HIV transmission and attain highly effective treatments.
“We also remember those lost to the disease, and remind ourselves that despite great gains, as a community and as individuals, we must continue to advocate for access to testing, treatment and care.
“ACTCOSS is advocating for an increase in community-based and publicly available sexual health services including in ACT’s West and North.”
Dr Campbell added: “ACTCOSS commits to continuing to listen to and be guided by people with lived experience and continuing to remember the importance of equal access to public health services.”
ACTCOSS advocates for social justice in the ACT and represents not-for-profit community organisations.