World AIDS Day 2015 – a day of reflection, aspiration and hope

Tracy Parish

01 December, 2015

Inspiring keynote speech on World AIDS Day by Burnet's Dr Clovis Palmer.

In a deeply personal and passionate keynote speech at the 2015 World AIDS Day launch in Melbourne, Burnet Institute’s Dr Clovis Palmer asked for a shared commitment to reach the ambitious goal of ‘Getting to Zero’.

‘Getting to Zero’ – achieving zero new infections, zero AIDS-related deaths, and zero stigma and discrimination for people living with HIV by 2020 – requires a long-term commitment of leadership, science and community.

“We have been given a mandate, but what role are we prepared to play to ensure we get to zero?” Dr Palmer asked of the diverse audience attending the Victorian World AIDS Day launch at the Doherty Institute for Infection and Immunity.

“Last year, 369 Victorians were newly diagnosed with HIV. For many around the world HIV is a death sentence, for others it is like living in hell,” he said.

More than 37 million people live with HIV globally and more than two million are newly infected each year. In Australia, HIV rates are at a concerning 20-year high, with more than 1000 new diagnoses in 2014. Currently, 27,150 Australians are living with HIV of whom 12 per cent are unaware of their HIV-positive status.

Dr Palmer spoke of the heartbreak of watching young women on TV in the 1990s, when he was just a teenager in Jamaica, who were clutching their precious children in their arms and asking for help in the fight against HIV.

“Many of them are no longer with us today but we remember their aspirations, their hope. Back then I didn’t understand the complexities around HIV or about stigma,” Dr Palmer said, who is now Head of the Palmer Laboratory at Burnet Institute.

“Everyone must have access to the best of healthcare services. A friend of mine travels five hours from country Victoria to receive HIV treatment but is unable to access some of our research studies.

“As researchers we are limited by funding. Getting to zero requires including everyone in our research and a diversification of participants, not just the high risk individuals but anyone at risk.”

(Image: Victorian Minister for Health, the Hon Jill Hennessy MP, courtesy of Living Positive Victoria. Photographer Andrew Henshaw.)

Victoria’s HIV community welcomed the announcement at the launch by the Victorian Minister for Health, the Hon Jill Hennessy MP that the state government will develop new guidelines to provide better and safer access to Pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) to prevent the spread of HIV. Find out more about the impact of this announcement from Burnet’s Associate Professor Mark Stoové.

(Image: Inspiring personal stories from Will Vialls and Christabel Millar with Dr Clovis Palmer. Photographer Andrew Henshaw.)

World AIDS Day is a day of reflection, aspiration and hope. It is a day of support acknowledged around the world for people living with HIV and to commemorate those who have died.

President of Living Positive Victoria, Richard Keane said the history and stories of people living with HIV should never be forgotten.

“We remember the early days of the AIDS epidemic and the devastation of those deaths, the sorrow, the loss. Getting to zero is a worthy goal and we need to make sure no-one is left behind.”

Burnet Institute proudly supports World AIDS Day in Australia and internationally. Find out more about our HIV laboratory-based research and HIV public health programs.

Thank you to our World AIDS Day partners in Victoria for their outstanding support at the community launch each year.

Contact Details

For more information in relation to this news article, please contact:

Burnet Institute

[email protected]




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