World AIDS Day at the AIDS Garden of Reflection
by AIDS action council president, adam stankevicius. 1/12/2018
World AIDS Day is an annual event held on 1 December to raise awareness about people living with HIV and to promote HIV prevention and education. World AIDS Day was the first ever global health day and the first one was held in 1988. World AIDS Day is recognised and observed by millions of people in more than 190 countries around the world as a day to raise awareness about HIV and AIDS.
There were 963 new HIV diagnoses in Australia in 2017. While this is the lowest number of diagnoses since 2010, we still need to focus our efforts on making sure this downward trend continues.
We also need to ensure that people living with HIV, their families, carers and friends get the understanding, advocacy and support that they need.
While HIV is today considered a chronic, but manageable condition, and people with HIV can lead long and healthy lives, with a similar life expectancy to a person who does not have HIV, we must remember that an estimated 27,600 people in Australia live with HIV.
This year’s World AIDS Day theme - Everybody Counts - carries an important message that acknowledges while overall rates in HIV transmissions in Australia are decreasing, we are still seeing increases in certain population groups.
The number of new HIV transmissions in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander, overseas born gay and bisexual men and heterosexual populations have all increased over the past five years according to The Kirby Institute.
While the introduction of PrEP shows great progress in preventative approaches to sexual health and the overall decline is good news, we still have a lots of work to do make sure transmissions continue to decrease and that we don’t leave anyone behind.
We will need to remain at the forefront of prevention approaches as the most at-risk populations shift and the importance of keeping the broader community aware of the best practices to keep themselves safe of HIV and STI transmission.
Established in 1983, five years before the first World AIDS Day, the AIDS Action Council continues to work to reduce stigma and discrimination that people living with HIV and at-risk communities face.
The AIDS Garden of Reflection is a living tribute to those lost to AIDS and in support of those living with HIV. Designed as a place of contemplation, the garden provides an opportunity for families, friends and supporters to honour those lost to HIV and AIDS, heal, reflect and develop hope.
I would like to acknowledge those who have supported the design, development and funding of the Garden – including the Council’s Patron Mr John Mackay – for their contribution to this wonderful, peaceful and contemplative space.