For World AIDS Day 2020, women living with HIV have dispelled outdated myths to end HIV stigma, highlighting the message that successful HIV treatment eliminates the risk of transmission of HIV via sex.
World AIDS Day on 1 December each year globally raises awareness, encourages community support for people living with HIV and commemorates those who died of AIDS. In Australia, the theme is Now More Than Ever to raise awareness about HIV education, prevention and that ‘now more than ever’ is the time to end HIV stigma.
In an Australian first, the women living with HIV and a leading Australian infectious diseases physician held a ground-breaking webinar focusing on the Undetectable equals Untransmittable message with the video shared globally by Positive Women Victoria at: https://positivewomen.org.au/tell-the-story/watch/
The Undetectable=Untransmittable (U=U) message aims to build public awareness that more than 20 years of scientific evidence confirms when antiretroviral treatment is used, and levels of HIV can’t be detected in blood, HIV can’t be transmitted during condomless sex. While the U=U message does not yet apply to pregnancy, scientific evidence has also shown zero transmissions when the mother with HIV is on treatment with undetectable viral load. Growing evidence is now moving towards supporting these mothers in a healthcare setting to breastfeed.
The panel of women living with HIV were joined by Associate Professor Edwina Wright who specialises in HIV medicine and HIV clinical research, and also chaired the ASHM COVID-19 Taskforce. The women shared stories about how U=U has transformed their lives, discussing issues around sex, relationships and motherhood, while Ass. Prof. Edwina Wright provided an update of the latest scientific HIV research and where this is heading.
Women living with HIV featured in the webinar: Sarah Feagan, a leading Australian HIV advocate for women living with HIV and ending HIV stigma. Jessica Whitbread from Canada, an international HIV advocate for the U=U message. Michelle Tobin, an Aboriginal woman of the Yorta Yorta Nation and the Aboriginal Health Program Officer with Positive Life NSW. Jackie Roberts, a passionate advocate for ending HIV stigma, a single mother and a former board director with Positive Women Victoria.
Positive Women Victoria Executive Officer Dr Kirsty Machon said the U=U Is Your Story Too Webinar For Women was a wonderful opportunity to share the optimism around the U=U message, and show how far we have come in ending HIV stigma in 2020, nearly 40 years since the HIV pandemic was proclaimed in June 1981.
Positive Women Victoria Chair, Georgina Whitchurch, said World AIDS Day is an important opportunity to start the education process. ‘Knowledge of U=U dispels the myths that have for too long driven stigma against people with HIV,’ she says.
WATCH: U=U Is Your Story Too webinar at: www.positivewomen.org.au/tell-the-story/watch/
World AIDS Day events: http://www.worldaidsday.org.au/internet/wad/publishing.nsf/Content/events-1
For information on accurate and sensitive reporting on women living with HIV please read the Women and HIV MEDIA GUIDE: https://positivewomen.org.au/wp-content/uploads/2020/10/PWV_MediaGuide_FINAL.pdf
LISTEN: Our Stories Ending HIV Stigma PODCAST https://positivewomen.org.au/tell-the-story/podcast/
Dr Kirsty Machon Executive Officer, Positive Women Victoria Ph: 0478 827 217
Heather Ellis Peer Project Leader, Positive Women Victoria Ph: 0425 720 193
Positive Women Victoria
Dr Kirsty Machon - Executive Officer, Positive Women Victoria