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Media Release

9 March 2022

Wednesday 9 March 2022 is Australia’s seventh National Day of Women living with HIV.  On this day we recognise and affirm all women living with HIV, including our trans and gender diverse sisters living with HIV, under the 2022 aspirational theme ‘Living Well: Beyond Stigma’.

The annual National Day of Women living with HIV is a day to celebrate the lives of all women living with HIV as well as raising awareness that HIV stigma and discrimination are still faced by all women with HIV every day.

“In Australia, women living with HIV make up about 10 percent of all people living with HIV and worldwide more than half (around 53%) of all people living with HIV are women over the age of 15 years,” Positive Life NSW CEO Jane Costello said.

“Despite these figures, women are largely invisible in our HIV response and women with HIV are a minority who live in silence and secrecy. This silence and secrecy feeds a climate of stigma and discrimination as well as an assumption that HIV is simply not an issue for women,” said Ms Costello.

“This assumption also creates serious health challenges particularly for women,” Positive Life Board Director, Frances Parker said. “Women often live many years before we are diagnosed with HIV. This ‘late diagnosis’ means that we sustain significant immune system damage, and by this stage many of us present to our healthcare providers with an AIDS-defining illness,” she said.

“The evidence is now clear that the earlier HIV is diagnosed, the sooner treatment is started, the better the health outcomes for all women who discover we are living with HIV,” Positive Life Board Director, Natasha Io said.

“If Australia is serious about population-wide virtual elimination of the virus, and improving health outcomes for all women living with HIV, gender differences needed to be accounted for. It’s time we call for equality in HIV testing and afford women equal access to HIV testing on par with men, along with comprehensive and culturally appropriate sexual health screening,” said Ms Io.

“On this National Day of Women Living with HIV, we need to move beyond stigma, challenge the assumptions and inequalities for all women living with HIV, so we leave no one behind,” said Ms Costello.

Positive Life NSW will hold an annual National Day of Women living with HIV High Tea for women and their guests to meet friends and supporters and hear from a range of presenters speaking to our 2022 theme, Living Well: Beyond Stigma

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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