Whilst this post has nothing to do with fashion, food or travel it is something that is dear to my heart and something that in my professional life I am part of and that has significance to everyone when you think about it.
Even in 2013 the issue of HIV should still be at the for front of all of our minds because for the first time in a number of years we have seen an increase in the new infections here in Australia. This surely is cause for concern and makes days like World AIDS Day an important event to remind people that even in 2013 that HIV is still with us and still important!
In my role doing events at WAAC – www.waaids.com I worked with our volunteer coordinator, Sarah and our CEO and managers to create a day for the community here in Perth that was based around remembering those who are no longer with us, reflecting on the past year and all of the things that we have achieved individually and as a community and celebrating how we have moved forward and some of the new things that we have to look forward to in the future.
WAAC has just introduced a new campaign called An End to HIV in WA that was launched last Monday at CROWN Perth – www.crownperth.com.au by the Lord Mayor of Perth, Lisa Scaffidi and focusses on the fact that for the very first time in this nearly 30 year epidemic we have a chance to see no more HIV in WA in the years ahead. This does not mean that we will get rid of it completely because there will still be people living with the virus but what it does mean is that we can focus on working with a range of key target populations and get testing, treatment and the message about staying safe out there and reinforce them with these groups.
Yesterday saw the sun shine and a range of people from a number of different sectors of the community, as well as a number of people with HIV come along to the day. It also saw the presentation of the World AIDS Day awards to a number of people and organisations that over the past year and beyond have made a significant impact on the epidemic here in WA. Each one of these winners was well deserved and some of their accomplishments were shared with those in attendance.
This year the World AIDS Day Award winners were:
Individual Award: Trish Langdon
Youth Award: Nicolle Valentin
Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Award: The David Wirrpanda Foundation
Rural and Remote Award: Dr Marisa Gilles
Health Services Award: Leah Williams
Media Award: Glitz Multimedia
Chairpersons Award: Eric Yu
CEOs Award: Tracey Lee
Each and every one of the above were well deserved winners who over the past year did some amazing things for the community here in WA.
The host for the day was WA NAPWA rep Ash Jones who spoke really eloquently about our stories and the impact we can all have by sharing our experiences with each other and the community around living with HIV and what that means as we move forward.
Andrew Burry, CEO of WAAC then followed up his speech from Monday on the new WAAC campaign of An End to HIV in WA with an inspiring talk about the new campaign and some statistics from the recent ICAAP conference in Bangkok about the region and the high incidence of HIV that still exists amongst many of our closest neighbours.
Deputy Chair of the WAAC Board, Jonathan Hallett then presented the World AIDS Day Awards and then our guests enjoyed coffee and pasties and mingled until the event came to a close at midday.
This was a day for reflection and it was a chance for me to remember the many amazing people that I have had in my life who I no longer have in it, as they lost their battles with this disease. I hold the memory of each and every one of them in my heart and remember their love, their friendship and the strength that they bought into their own fight with HIV and how much I learnt from each of them on this journey that I am on.
So as the day now fades we need to stay focussed on an end to HIV in not just WA but everywhere else in the world! It really is possible, if all agree to it and work together as a community.