Professor Margaret Hellard delivering the keynote address at WAD 2012 in Melbourne
The Burnet Institute joined the Victorian Health Minister, the Hon. David Davis MP and Living Positive Victoria in launching World AIDS Day 2012 in the gardens of Victoria’s Parliament House.
Professor Margaret Hellard who is also Head of Burnet’s Centre for Population Health and an infectious diseases physician was invited to be the keynote speaker.
The theme for this year’s World AIDS Day is ‘HIV is still here’, encouraging all Australians to be aware of the prevalence of HIV and AIDS, to take action to reduce the transmission of HIV by promoting safe sex practices, and to accept individuals living with, or affected by, HIV and AIDS.
President of Living Postive Victoria, Sam Venning said HIV is something we must talk about openly, clearly and honestly.
“Being scared to discuss it reinforces the shame and stigma that currently exists for those living with HIV,” Mr Venning said.
“This year’s theme reminds us all that it is only the sustained and combined strategies of government, researchers and community based organisations that will help us end the HIV epidemic.”
Living Positive Victoria also called for a reinvigorated HIV response in Australia given the “worrying rise” in the number of new HIV infections in Victoria and nationwide.
“This year marks 31 years since HIV was confirmed. World AIDS Day reminds us that HIV is still here,” Mr Venning said.
“Now, more than ever it’s crucial we all work together to prevent the spread of HIV and support those living with the virus. I call upon all Victorians to play their part in reversing this trend. Start talking and get tested - we all have to play our part,” he said.
Living Positive Victoria is calling for improved access to rapid HIV testing, increased availability of treatment and removal of legal and policy barriers that stand in the way of innovative responses to HIV.
Almost half of Burnet’s research programs are focussed on HIV and prevention.
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