Victoria continues to model the way in the ongoing response to HIV and is striving towards achieving UNAIDS goals of getting to zero: zero new infections, zero AIDS-related deaths and zero discrimination by 2020. World AIDS Day 2015 has been expanded to include a series of free and accessible events drawing together the diverse elements of the Victorian response to HIV and AIDS.
Drawing from the conference themes of AIDS 2014, the day offers a series of events broadly focused on the areas of Leadership, Community and Science. World AIDS Day 2015 will be hosted at The Peter Doherty Institute for Infection and Immunity (Doherty Institute) in partnership with a range of HIV sector organisations.
“World AIDS Day 2015 provides an opportunity to bring the Victorian community, public health professionals and laboratory researchers together to highlight the progress made in the fight against HIV and AIDS. It provides a forum to discuss our strategies, to share our experiences across the sector and to find the most effective way forward,” Dr Clovis Palmer, Burnet Institute researcher and World AIDS Day 2015 keynote speaker.
“World AIDS Day 2015 has been re-imaged with a strong focus on content and the current state of HIV in Victoria. We wanted to create a platform where community, science and leadership could come together in a similar way to what we experienced at AIDS 2014, albeit on a much smaller scale. This is a great opportunity for the HIV sector, engaged community members, people living with HIV and anyone with an interest in the issue to take time to come together on this very important date,” says Suzy Malhotra, a/CEO, Living Positive Victoria.
“We, as a vibrant and multicultural community, can create social change by getting involved in the free public events that are part of Victorian World AIDS Day. Coming together at these events gives us a platform to have a meaningful conversation on how communities can get to zero new HIV infections, zero discrimination and zero AIDS-related deaths,” says Hope Mathumbu, Victorian World AIDS Day committee representative from Multicultural Health and Support Service (MHSS).
Victorian Minister for Health, the Hon. Jill Hennessy, will launch the day’s activities at the opening event. Minister Hennessey will be joined by keynote speaker, Dr Clovis Palmer from the Burnet Institute who will address what is needed in Victoria to achieve the goal of getting to zero, and members of the Positive Speakers Bureau who will share the lived experience of HIV. The launch event is followed by a networking morning tea.
“Leadership has been critical to the success of the HIV response globally and locally. The Minister for Health, Jill Hennessy, will officially launch World AIDS Day, demonstrating the continued commitment of the Victorian Government to the HIV response and to Victorians living with HIV. Morning tea is not to be missed afterwards as a chance to catch up with friends and colleagues from across the sector,” says Max Niggl, Coordinator Victorian World AIDS Day committee.
Presented by popular JOY presenter and broadcaster Dean Beck, the Community Forum will explore the burning issue of PrEP in Victoria, including access and understanding of PrEP from newly formed community groups to those communities with little or no knowledge of HIV. Community members, including the group behind the gorilla poster campaign which shocked the Victorian community into discussion about PrEP, have been invited to sit alongside sector representatives for a lively discussion about the current state of HIV in Victoria.
“The recent poster campaign adorning Melbourne's streets is evidence of community frustration with the Australian Government’s lack of action on PrEP. In 2012, the US Government fully endorsed PrEP for use, yet by the time it is approved here many hundreds of people would have become HIV positive. An appalling legacy to contemplate and an avoidable situation for those newly diagnosed, myself included,” says Dean Beck.
With a strong focus on the complex science that has driven our understanding and management of HIV, this is the first symposium of mHIVE - a joint program of HIV researchers and clinicians across multiple institutions in Melbourne, including the Doherty and Burnet Institutes. Featuring special international speaker Dr Jacob Estes (NCI Frederick, Washington, USA) who will speak about new methods to detect low levels of HIV that persist on treatment in tissues. These techniques are now playing a major role in HIV cure research. The inaugural ViiV Young Investigator awards will celebrate excellence in HIV research.
“We’re very excited to be hosting the inaugural mHIVE symposium and Victorian World AIDS Day 2015 activities at the Doherty institute. I am thrilled that in Melbourne we have such a vibrant HIV research community who understand the importance of working in partnership with people living with HIV. World AIDS Day is a pertinent reminder of how far we’ve come in the response to HIV, but also how far we still have to go. It will be the next generation of activists, scientists and politicians that will be instrumental in delivering a world without HIV,” says University of Melbourne Professor Sharon Lewin, Director of the Doherty Institute.
“The vision for the mHIVE Committee of early career researchers was to make cutting edge and novel HIV research performed across Victoria highly collaborative as well as accessible and relevant to people living with HIV. We are immensely excited with how the program for World AIDS Day is shaping up,” says Dr Megan Crane, postdoctoral researcher at the Doherty Institute and Chair of the mHIVE Committee.
Special broadcast - JOY 94.9 who celebrate their founding birthday on World AIDS Day have dedicated the day to special programming including exclusive and live content from the day.
“As always, we at JOY 94.9 are keen to shine a light on the important messages of World AIDS Day. Getting to Zero pays tribute to the core reasons JOY 94.9 was founded and we are looking forward to broadcasting some really special content on air on 1 December, as well as across the course of our anniversary week,” says Amy Moon, General Manager, JOY 94.9.
The day’s program of events are free and everyone engaged in the response to HIV are encouraged to attend. The day’s events conclude with the Positive Living Centre Memorial at 6pm, a special service to commemorate and remember those lost to AIDS and HIV held at the Positive Living Centre, 51 Commercial Road, Prahran.