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Stop HIV Stigma - Australia Needs a New National HIV Education Campaign

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My name is Cath, I love my life in country Victoria, I love horse-riding, and I love my community. I am also a woman living with HIV.

I'm calling for a new national HIV campaign because I want to stop HIV stigma.

You might have seen HIV making national news recently after a by-election candidate was falsely accused of living with HIV. As a woman living with HIV does this mean that HIV would prevent me from reaching my potential as a political candidate? Would no one vote for me because I was living with HIV? Does having HIV mean I am incapable of participating wholly in my community?

When HIV is still used as a smear against people, it makes me afraid that we haven't moved from the dark days of the 80s and 90s.  For nearly 40 years we have lived with HIV stigma, despite the fact that for over 20 years, HIV treatments have been so effective in suppressing the virus.

You may have heard of Undetectable = Untransmittable, or U=U. It means that anyone living with HIV, on effective treatment, poses ZERO risk to their partners.

That's right: U=U means zero risk of HIV transmission.

But you might not have heard this life saving, life-changing news. That's understandable though. Did you know the only national, far-reaching HIV campaign to ever run in Australia was the Grim Reaper campaign in 1987. Many of us will never forget that TV ad. Now, we need something just as effective to spread the good news. 

Things have changed so much since 1987, but one thing that hasn't changed fast enough is ending HIV stigma. It's the reason why people still are using HIV as a dirty trick in a political campaign, why people living with HIV experience discrimination and isolation. 

Will you help me bring Australia's understanding of HIV into the 21st century? I can't do it alone.