U and Me can Stop HIV: Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander HIV Awareness Week

Each year in the first week of December, to coincide with World AIDS Day, Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander HIV Awareness Week takes place across Australia. Foregrounding the theme “U and Me can Stop HIV”, ATSIHAW is a key annual event for raising Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander communities’ awareness of HIV and mobilising community action to bring down HIV rates in communities.

On World Aids Day, Wednesday 1st December, International Indigenous Working Group for Indigenous Affairs and the team at Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander HIV Awareness Week are hosting the 2021 International Indigenous Peoples Mini Conference on HIV online, where Indigenous speakers from around the globe will discuss local HIV issues—especially in the context of COVID-19 pandemic. Additionally, across Victoria and online, are various other community events engaging with the theme throughout the week. 

“Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander HIV awareness week and World AIDS day is a chance to raise awareness of HIV in Indigenous Communities right across Australia,” says Peter Waples-Crowe, artist and health educator for the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander project at Thorne Harbour Health. “I feel that this week gives us the opportunity to hold events that promote new prevention medications such as PrEP and PEP, treatment as prevention and support and love for people living with HIV. It’s also a chance to get messages out to rural, regional and remote Communities away from the cities.”

Living Positive Victoria prioritises working meaningfully with community members to ensure culturally safe services for our Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander clients and members. Part of this engagement is working towards a Reflect Reconciliation Action Plan.

“Living Positive Victoria is excited to embark on our Reflect Reconciliation Action Plan,” says Sara Graham, Living Positive Victoria’s Peer Support Manager. “It is our vision that our services and programs are culturally safe for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples and respectful of the vast richness of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultures. We are excited to develop strong partnerships and work collaboratively with Aboriginal community controlled organisations to develop a service model that meets the needs of our Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander members.”

To get involved with an ATSIHAW event online or near you, visit https://www.atsihiv.org.au/hiv-awareness-week/atsihaw-2021.