Byron Light House Goes Red on World AIDS Day

Byron Light House Goes Red on World AIDS Day
Australia’s most easterly Light House will be lit Red during World AIDS Day on 1st December as part of North Coast World AIDS Day 2013 activities to raise community awareness about HIV.

North Coast HIV and Related Programs (HARP) will partner with North Coast Medicare Local, ACON Northern Rivers and a number of regional organisations to promote the World AIDS Day 2013 NSW theme: Ending HIV.

Jenny Heslop, Manager, North Coast HIV and Related Programs (HARP) said, “It has been over 30 years since the first diagnosis of HIV in NSW and we are getting closer to achieving our goal of Ending HIV”.

“Through the remarkable advances in testing and treatment and the continued promotion of safe behaviour, we now have the means to achieve this goal. Everything has changed. We now have the means to virtually eliminate the transmission of HIV by 2020.”

“NSW has a strong track record of achievement in preventing the spread of HIV. However, the 2012 data shows a concerning rise in HIV notifications in NSW, with 409 new diagnoses in NSW residents, compared with 330 in 2011. We are reminded that HIV affects people of all ages, genders and cultures; with 14% of notifications in 2012 from heterosexual contact. Currently up to 15,000 people are estimated to be living with the virus in NSW,” Ms Heslop said.

Dr Natalie Edmiston, HIV Staff Specialist with North Coast HARP said, “Prevention is still key to minimise the impact of HIV on our community. The most effective way for people to protect themselves and their sexual partners in reducing the spread of HIV is to use condoms consistently and have regular HIV and STI testing,” Dr Edmiston said.

“While there is still no cure for HIV, advances in medication and treatment not only improves health and wellbeing of people with HIV but also reduces the risk of spreading HIV to others, often without people knowing it.”
“A recent key development on the North Coast is the introduction of rapid HIV testing site in Lismore – an important step to getting tested for early diagnosis and treatment. The new easy finger-prick screening test for HIV can give preliminary result within 20 minutes – while you wait,” Dr Edmiston explained.

On World AIDS Day 1 December, people in NSW are being asked to show their support for those living with HIV by wearing a red ribbon.

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