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Community leaders reflect on the AIDS 2014 conference

Community leaders reflect on the AIDS 2014 conference

LAST UPDATED // Friday, 01 August 2014 16:48 Written by // James Findlay

With the 20th International AIDS Conference over, community leaders discuss what was achieved and where we need to head.

Simon Ruth, CEO of the Victorian AIDS Council, told MCV the conference was an important moment for sharing ideas.

“The conference offered us the unique opportunity to directly connect with the international HIV/AIDS community in a way that we may not see again in Melbourne,” he said

“Working together, we were able to share ideas, become more informed on the latest findings and join our voices to be heard on a global scale.”

Ruth also highlighted some of the major points that happened during the week, including the campaign and movement to repeal Section 19A of the Crimes Act through their partnership with Living Positive Victoria.

Section 19A allows a maximum 25 years imprisonment for anyone who intentionally infects another with HIV.

“Over the course of the conference week, we saw varying degrees of bipartisan support [for an amendment/repeal], but ultimately this discriminatory law needs to be struck down altogether.,” Ruth said.

“We will continue to work on this as well as several of the issues included in our joint election platform.  The urgency to reform several of the issues in our election platform was evident from the dialogue and latest findings raised at the AIDS 2014 conference.

“In addition, we need to ensure that both PEP and PrEP are available to people who need additional tools to prevent HIV infection,” Ruth continued.

“The findings from the extension of the iPrEx study, iPrEx OLE, demonstrate that PrEP works as long as people adhere to the treatment. These findings very powerfully make the case for PrEP to be available to people who need it.”

As reported in last week’s MCV, this conference saw the first Trans Space for transgender people, which was said to be a huge step forward for shedding light on issues faced by transgender people.
Sally Goldner from Transgender Victoria said the conference was a great opportunity to learn from communities around the world.

“Whilst there seems to be three consistent themes for trans people around the world, documentation issues, health and medical care issues and discrimination in varying aspects and degrees, overall the issues are of the same nature that give us the opportunity to learn practical ideas for each other but also share strengths with each other when we’re down.

“If you’ve got a community that’s struggling because of repression, hopefully they can reach out to others where there are strengths and we can help boost each other.

“Hopefully we can inspire each other to keep finding our strengths.”

Goldner said Australian transgender people will benefit from processes in countries where things are going “ok”.

“Everyone here is processing everything and making sure we do things strategically and really utilising what we learnt.”

The 21st International AIDS Conference will be held in 2016 in South Africa.


James Findlay

James Findlay

James Findlay is a Melbourne-based journalist and broadcaster who has worked in community media for many years. He has won awards for his work on The Naughty Rude Show on SYN, and can be heard on JOY 94.9's breakfast program, Triple Threat, and Hide and Seek - exploring sex, sexuality and self. He is currently completing his Master of Public Health specialising in Sexual Health at Melbourne University, and a tutor in the School of Media and Communication at RMIT University.

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