Ms PATTEN (Northern Metropolitan) (12:31:44) — On Sunday I had the honour of attending and speaking at the 35th International AIDS Candlelight Memorial held at Southbank. The theme this year was ‘Reflecting on our past; preparing for our future’. I remember 30 years ago I attended my first funeral for a friend who had died of an AIDS‑related illness. In those days the treatments were not terribly effective and the discrimination and stigma experienced were horrific. Friends were disowned by families, refused service in restaurants and sacked from their jobs. A lot has changed; treatments now mean that HIV can be undetectable, and with a simple treatment people with HIV can live long and healthy lives. But the stigma and discrimination still exist in our community and even in our laws.
I would like to thank the Victorian AIDS Council; Living Positive Victoria; and the wonderful speakers from the Positive Speakers Bureau, Heather Mugwagwa and Andy Holsden and all of the wonderful volunteers. In fact I would like to thank all of the wonderful volunteers in Victoria — all 1.5 million of them — who help make our community a safer, stronger, more caring and connected society.