There is a pressing need to make HIV prevention, testing and treatment services more inclusive, according to this year’s World AIDS Day campaign. The campaign theme ‘Equalise’ highlights the need to tackle HIV stigma and increase access to these key services, so they are welcoming to everyone including people from diverse communities.

HIV remains a public health concern in Australia, with an estimated 29,090 people living with HIV (Kirby Institute 2020 report). Nearly one in ten Australians living with HIV are unaware they have the virus and may be unknowingly passing on the virus to others.

‘Fear of HIV stigma and discrimination is a major reason behind why many people from diverse communities still hesitate to test for HIV,’ said Barbara Luisi, Manager of the Multicultural HIV and Hepatitis Service (MHAHS).

‘Our communities are more likely to miss out on accessing key HIV services on time. The proportion of late HIV diagnoses is higher among people from CALD communities. Testing early is key for accessing HIV treatment quickly. HIV treatment is free, even if you don’t have a Medicare card.’

MHAHS is supporting the campaign by promoting its award-winning resource HIV: What you need to know, available in eight languages: English, Arabic, Chinese, Indonesian, Portuguese, Spanish, Thai, and Vietnamese. The e-booklet can be downloaded from the here, and free hard copies are available to order.

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