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Red ribbons reminders as Coffs Coast marks World AIDS Day

THE 30th anniversary of the first diagnosis of HIV in Australia will be marked locally on Saturday, World AIDS Day, with market stalls and a dance.

Since 1982, advances in treatment have brought important improvements for those living with HIV and prevention efforts have dramatically reduced the number of new diagnoses to achieve a relatively stable rate of HIV notifications in NSW.

The manager of North Coast HIV and Related Programs (HARP), Jenny Heslop, said recent studies in Australia showed stigma and discrimination issues around HIV were particularly present in rural and remote communities.

"Lack of knowledge and fear of HIV may result in stigmatising attitudes and discriminatory behaviour by the community toward people with HIV if they cannot access information and understand that HIV is not transmitted through casual contact," Ms Heslop said.

"Due to improved treatments, people living with HIV are now living longer and healthier lives, but there is still no cure for HIV.

"The most effective way for people to protect themselves and their partners in reducing the spread of HIV is to consistently use condoms with sexual partners and have regular HIV and STI testing."

In the lead-up to World AIDS Day, Red Ribbon merchandise will be available at ACON's offices at 9 Boambee St, Coffs Harbour, as well as selected local businesses.

The United Flag social group is holding a Hollywood-themed dance at the Cavanbah Centre from 7pm on Saturday night with part proceeds to Red Ribbon Day.

There will also be stalls at the Harbourside Markets on Sunday and in City Square on Monday.

For information on World AIDS Day go to worldaidsday.org.au.



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