Ms PATTEN (Northern Metropolitan) (17:10:34): I would very much like to rise and speak to this motion that was brought to the house by the crossbench, by Mr Meddick. World AIDS Day has been commemorated in this country since 1988, and I have been commemorating it since that day.
In 1989 Darren Hook was my first friend to die of HIV and AIDS, and since then I have seen many of my friends die. At the end I was not going to funerals. In those days it was a death sentence, and you would almost rather not know. We did not promote testing because there was nothing we could do.
All that a positive result from a test gave you was discrimination, stigma and anxiety, and sometimes your family disowned you, your friends disowned you and you lost your job. Even your dentist would not see you.
But I am so encouraged in 2019, and much of the change in how we look at HIV and AIDS has been led in Australia and has been led from Victoria. Some of the best work in Australia, the best work in the world, has happened here.
One of the most important points I would note is that where Australia got it right was around harm reduction. We immediately set up AIDS councils. We immediately set up needle and syringe exchange programs, and now we have Pronto!.
Today in the paper we have a subsidy for HIV drugs, and they are talking about a day when the world eliminates HIV transmissions.
We know that undetectable equals untransmittable, and we have got there. I never thought in 1988 that I would be saying that in 2019.
To the 27,000 people who are living with AIDS and to the thousands of people who have died, on Sunday I will be thinking of you.