World AIDS Day
Today is World AIDS Day.
Today, we pause and reflect on the impact of the global HIV/AIDS epidemic on our country and the world.
Since its first appearance in 1979, HIV/AIDS has killed around 40 million people world-wide, including about 8,000 in Australia.
There are still over 20,000 people in Australia living with HIV.
My electorate of Macnamara was one of the hardest-hit areas during the height of the epidemic in the 1980s and 90s.
Many of my constituents are still living with the legacy of HIV/AIDS, a legacy of chronic illness, loss and bereavement.
This is because my electorate covers much of the residential, social and business centre of the Melbourne’s LGBTIQ community.
And it was gay and bisexual men who were hardest hit by HIV/AIDS during its initial onslaught.
Other groups present in my electorate affected were injecting drug users and sex workers.
But the story of HIV/AIDS in Australia is not just one of grief and loss.
It is also the story of how Australia fought back against this disease.
The LGBTIQ community mounted a highly successful education and prevention campaign which saved thousands of lives.
They worked with governments and medical professionals to reduce transmissions and care for those living with the disease.
We saw the LGBTIQ community mobilise again this year, as they worked to educate and protect each other against the emergence of MPX.
This is a community who deeply cares about each other and continuing to work with community-led organisations is the best way for government to combat new health challenges.
I feel privileged to represent many of the people who led the fight against HIV/AIDS in Melbourne.
I want to mention David Menadue OAM, who was diagnosed with AIDS in 1985, and who has been one of the most prominent advocates for people living with HIV.
I recently had the pleasure of attending David’s 70th birthday celebrations at the Pride Centre in St Kilda.
I would also like to mention Dr Adam Carr.
Adam is a member of my team, and during the early years of the HIV/AIDS epidemic he was a brave and outspoken journalist and activist.
He is also a founding member of the Victorian AIDS Action Committee, now known as Thorne Harbour Health.
Thank you, David and Adam for your immeasurable contribution to Australia’s response to the HIV/AIDS crisis.
Today, we reflect on the success of this response, as well as remember the many young lives that were cut too short by the disease.
30 November 2022