World AIDS Day is marked internationally on 1 December.
In 2016 the World AIDS Day national theme is HIV is still here – and it's on the move
This is a time to raise awareness in the wider community about the issues surrounding HIV and AIDS. It is a day to demonstrate support for people living with HIV and to commemorate those who have died. Wearing a red ribbon is a way that you can show solidarity and raise awareness of HIV.
This is also a time when we remember the members of the bleeding disorder community who were affected by HIV when in the mid-1980s HIV was transmitted through some batches of clotting factor treatment product.
Australians who attended the World Congress in Florida this year were deeply touched by the story they heard there of Ryan White, a young man with haemophilia in the USA, who acquired HIV from his clotting factor products in the 1980s and died when he was 18 years old. Even though he was still in his teens, Ryan became a community leader and spoke out against discrimination, having experienced it himself when he was banned from attending school. The impact of Ryan’s work continues to live on. The US national Ryan White Comprehensive AIDS Resources Emergency (CARE) Act was named in honour of Ryan and funds programs to improve availability of care for low-income, uninsured and under-insured people with HIV and their families.
As Sam comments in Youth News, the Ryan White story reminds us how important it is to remember of the legacy of HIV in the Australian bleeding disorders community. This tragic episode affected many people in our community, especially the people who lost partners, family members, children, patients, colleagues and friends. It cannot be forgotten.
However, as with Ryan’s story, it is important also to remember the achievements of Australians in the bleeding disorders community affected by HIV – for example, the Mark Fitzpatrick Trust, named for a young Tasmanian boy with haemophilia who died of AIDS when he was 10 years old and recognising his mother's work in HIV education to prevent stigma and discrimination. The Trust was set up by the Australian Government to provide special financial assistance to people with medically acquired HIV and their dependents.
In 2016 HIV continues to be a part of our community’s experience. Some people with bleeding disorders live on with the challenges of HIV. They remind us how vital it is to create a supportive and stigma-free environment for our community, and to acknowledge these individuals who inspire us by their positive attitude, resilience and determination to build a better future.
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