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Media Release

Thursday 1 December 2022

Positive Life NSW welcomes World AIDS Day 2022 marked on Thursday 1 December, with this year’s International World AIDS Day theme of ‘Equalise’ being a powerful call to action to address, and dismantle the inequalities and barriers that impede on progress and human dignity.

“Even with today’s knowledge, treatments and tools, we have not ended HIV transmission four decades on, due to the systemic inequalities and lack of awareness that restrict access to HIV prevention and treatment,” said Positive Life NSW CEO, Jane Costello.

“Division, disruption and a lack of respect for human rights are among the failures that have allowed HIV to become and remain a health crisis, globally and locally,” said Ms Costello.

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), equity is defined as “the absence of avoidable or remediable differences among groups of people, whether those groups are defined socially, economically, demographically or geographically.  Therefore, as the WHO notes, health inequities involve more than a lack of equal access to needed resources to maintain or improve health outcomes.

If we are serious about realising these targets and truly achieving equity for all, we need to go back to basics.  The HIV pandemic is not over. HIV has simply moved further into the margins and has affected many communities, including people from culturally and linguistically diverse (CALD) backgrounds, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, heterosexual people, people born overseas, people from diverse genders and sexualities, and women of all ages.

“It’s time to talk about HIV in all communities through nuanced, targeted messaging that doesn’t make assumptions about people’s beliefs, cultures, behaviours, sexuality, gender or understanding of sexual health so that we truly leave no-one behind. Put simply, we need to do better,” said Ms Costello.

It is imperative that people see people like themselves represented in messaging and initiatives, and that we go beyond top-down approaches that hinder self-determination and building strong, resilient, health literate communities who are empowered to make evidence-based, informed decisions for themselves.

“We need to ensure access and availability for all regardless of background, to culturally appropriate, co-designed and suitable services that meet people where they are at. If we have learned anything from COVID, is that we ignore social isolation at our peril. This includes those for whom the HIV response has been anything but equitable,” said Ms Costello.

On this World AIDS Day, let us celebrate the vitalness and centrality of people living with HIV, but acknowledge that not all people living with HIV experience the same positive outcomes or notion of equity, and let us commit to bold action so that no one is left behind in the HIV response.

Positive Life NSW in partnership with Bobby Goldsmith Foundation (BGF) will also mark 2022 World AIDS Day with a ceremony at the Sydney Conservatorium of Music.

If you need peer-centred support or information, call Positive Life on (02) 8357 8386 or 1800 245 677 or visit www.positivelife.org.au.


Jane Costello, CEO – 1800 245 677 or email communications@positivelife.org.au

Positive Life NSW is the voice of all people living with HIV in NSW since 1988. We are the largest peer-led and run representative body of all people living with HIV in Australia based in NSW. We make a significant contribution to and positive impact across the spectrum of health and social issues on behalf of all people living with HIV in collaboration with HIV specialist and mainstream services to improve the health and quality of life of all people living with HIV in NSW. We do this through evidence based health promotion, research, policy advice and peer support.


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