World AIDS Day

Sunday 1 December is World AIDS Day. It's now over 30 years since we first heard about the mysterious disease that later became known as Acquired Immune Deficiency Sydnrome or AIDS.

Between now and Sunday a mobile HIV testing clinic will be available in Taylor Square. The tests are free and only take 30 minutes.

When I was elected in to the NSW Parliament in 1988, I knew that AIDS issues would be a major focus of my work - given our electorate was at the epicentre of the epidemic.

In the early days, there was also the personal impact: viewing the AIDS Memorial Quilt, and recognising lovingly made panels celebrating the lives of people I'd known; recognising so many names at AIDS Candlelight Vigils; learning that friends were courageously living with the virus, and then watching them become ill. In those years, my experience was repeated too many times in Sydney's gay community.

As the years passed, the funerals declined, treatments improved, people with HIV were living longer and able to enjoy fulfilling and productive lives. Australia was fortunate that its response to HIV and AIDS was sensible, compassionate and collaborative, based on a strong partnership between government, the medical and healthcare professionals and the affected communities.

Other countries have not been as fortunate. World AIDS Day is a reminder that more needs to be done. I strongly endorse its global theme, Getting to Zero: Zero new HIV infections. Zero discrimination. Zero AIDS related deaths.

I encourage you to show your support for people living with HIV, commemorate people who we have lost to the epidemic and recognise the need for continued action.

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