World AIDS Day 2012: Thanking and Thinking…
In the Wake of World AIDS Day 2012, Lynlee Hannan of the AIDS Council of South Australia says thank you.
First and foremost, as the World AIDS Day coordinator for SA I would like to say thank you to all of the staff, volunteers, organisations, businesses and the public who supported any World AIDS Day activities for 2012. It was through the generosity and hard work of these that we were able to increase awareness of HIV and also raise a significant amount of funds for the SA Bobby Goldsmith Fund which provides financial assistance to local people living with HIV who are experiencing financial hardship.
The Red Ribbon Appeals held in Rundle Mall and the Adelaide Central Markets were a great success with many people giving more than their donations: thanking us for being there, telling us to keep up the good work, and asking questions or taking information about HIV and ways they can help. As always, there were many people who politely declined our offers of free red ribbon pins, tea towels, shopping bags and fortune cookies, and I am sure that this is a common occurrence at any charity appeal. I am not so sure however, that it is as shared an occurrence to have a number of people who were far from polite.
I was disappointed to see the amount of people who gave scowling looks to our volunteers who were respectfully offering free merchandise giveaways. I was shocked when a woman, with her young daughter in tow, asked what the ribbon was for and when told, threw it back in to the box stating “AIDS is God’s punishment for people who live a bad lifestyle”. It took all of my strength, but I politely but strongly disagreed with her until she moved on, seemingly unaffected. Incidences such as these – while not in the majority – reaffirm in the strongest possible terms why we need to keep doing what we are doing; raising awareness, educating people, challenging stigma and discrimination in all its forms, facing down stereotypes and promoting acceptance.
The week leading up to World AIDS Day (AIDS Awareness Week) saw a number of other events and unique promotions take place in the name of the day. If you missed out on being involved in our World AIDS Day 2012 activities or merchandise - it’s not too late! You can still donate online at redribbon.org.au and, as always, you can spread the word that HIV is still here and inform yourself and others on how we can all support those living with HIV and prevent any more new infections.
Lynlee Hanan is a Health Promotion Officer for Gay Men’s Health at ACSA. acsa.org.au