Standing up for Canberra

World AIDS Day

I commend the member for taking part in that fabulous program. I rise today to mark World AIDS Day. HIV can affect anyone. I think back to the 1980s when AIDS gripped this nation. It was an epidemic. In Melbourne, where I was living, it seemed that almost every person my age, including me, had lost a friend or loved one to this disease. In 2014, HIV-AIDS can be not only prevented but treated. HIV is now a manageable infection.

A diagnosis of HIV is no longer the death sentence that it once was, thanks to the incredible work of scientists, researchers and medical professionals. I would like to count my sister, who did some very, very early work on AIDS in the eighties, as one of those incredible scientists.

However, just this morning the ACT AIDS Action Council's acting Executive Director, Philippa Moss, highlighted how important it is that we do not become complacent. The incredible progress that has been made since the nineties has seen our vigilance and fear around AIDS subside, resulting in a recent rise in reported HIV cases around Australia. According to the council, here in Canberra HIV diagnoses have doubled in the last three years, mainly in men who have sex with men, but not exclusively so. AIDS continues to be a major public health issue, and last year's theme—'Getting to Zero: zero new HIV infections. Zero discrimination. Zero AIDS-related deaths'—continues this year.

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