World AIDS Day

World AIDS Day Inclusion Respect Equity

In Australia, it is a day for the community to: 

  • show their support for people living with HIV
  • raise awareness about prevention, treatment and care 
  • eliminate stigma and discrimination around HIV 
  • remember people who have died of AIDS-related illnesses. 

Much has changed since HIV was first identified in the mid-1980s. Today in Australia:

  • People living with HIV can get medication that allows them to live a healthy, long life.  
  • People living with HIV who take antiretroviral treatment can supress their viral load and have no risk of transmitting the infection to a sexual partner.  
  • People can take preventive medication that removes the risk of getting HIV through sexual activity.  
  • People can quickly access medications that prevents HIV infection if exposed to the virus.  
  • We have safer-sex initiatives and programs to reduce the risk of harm from injecting drugs.  

Wearing a red ribbon, the international symbol of HIV awareness and support, is one way of showing your support for people living with HIV and honouring lives lost over the past 40 years.

Part of our everyday life as a community is being mindful of our community members living with HIV, of demonstrating our support for them and commemorating those with HIV who have passed away. 

HIV is a very important part of our community’s history. In the mid-1980s some adults and children with bleeding disorders acquired HIV from their clotting factor treatment products. Some lost their lives to HIV while others live with HIV today. Treatment product safety is now greatly improved and the risk of bloodborne infection from products derived from blood is extremely low. Nevertheless, the impact of HIV has been profound. It affected not only the people who acquired HIV, but also their partner, family and friends, the health professionals who have cared for them, and the bleeding disorders community generally.

The HIV experience drew on the resilience that was already a strong element among people with bleeding disorders and led to a resolve to respond as a community, taking on effective advocacy around safer treatments and providing support.

This year’s theme is a timely invitation to consider what Inclusion. Respect. Equity. means to us. 

We are grateful to some of our community members living with HIV who generously shared their thoughts.


Read 40 years of HIV – where to next? for reflections from our affected community about their experiences and thoughts about the future.

Visit for more information about World AIDS Day in Australia.

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