National Women Living with HIV Day!

Get tested, know your status

07 Mar 2018 – reproduced from NAPWHA

Once again, March 9 commemorates the National Day of Women Living with HIV in Australia. Initiated by the National Network of Women Living with HIV — otherwise known as the Femfatales — the annual day of awareness was conceived due to concerns that Australian women are too often unaware about the risks and realities of HIV. “We wanted to start conversations so that all women have an opportunity to increase their knowledge and awareness about HIV,” said Femfatales Chair, Kath Leane.

Now into its third year, the national day continues to grow and is observed by local events held all around Australia. The key message this year is Get Tested, Know Your Status to encourage and empower women to take control of their own health by getting tested for HIV.

There are currently around 3,000 women living with HIV in Australia. Yet women are often not considered to be at risk of acquiring HIV. As a result, they are less likely to test for the virus. We need to change this by normalising the testing procedure and thereby reducing the stigma around HIV.

Having an HIV test should be something women include as part of their regular sexual health check-up. The more women test for HIV, the more we will be able to diagnose and treat women appropriately, address the gaps in testing, and tailor the experience to suit women.

It is vital that the barriers and gaps in testing for women around HIV are recognised so that women are not left behind. Nearly half of heterosexual people diagnosed with HIV in 2017 had a late diagnosis, which means they were likely to have acquired HIV at least four years before the positive result — and had been unaware of their status all that time. Being diagnosed late can result in serious health challenges due to a compromised immune system.

It is hoped that the National Day of Women Living with HIV in Australia will help not only raise the profile of women with HIV, and help reduce stigma, but also — importantly — encourage women to test. “In 2018, Femfatales is advocating the importance of knowing your own HIV status, which requires having an HIV test and taking charge of your sexual health,” said Leane. “This is the aim of this special day.”

Finally! The Sexy Gay PrEP Video We’ve Been Waiting For.

This article and the links to the videos first appeared in June on  and was written by Mark King.  As we move closer to the PrEPIT WA trail launching here in Perth it is a great time to look at these videos because they share some important information. Even though they are from the US the basics are the same and the messages just as relevant.

And so, without a dime of governmental or pharmaceutical funding, Chris used an assignment for his master’s degree in cinema to create “The PrEP Project,” a four-part video series that speaks honestly — and quite explicitly — to gay men about their sex lives and why more of them should be using PrEP.

The result is the sexiest (and maybe funniest) video series on the topic anyone has produced to date. It’s exactly what PrEP advocates have been waiting for, because it isn’t beholden to stiff health department guidelines or even political correctness.

Stop everything and watch it right this minute, as long as your boss doesn’t mind some bare ass and explicit sex talk. Each episode is only five minutes.

Did I mention the series features leatherman sexpert Eric Paul Leue, as well as a gay porn star and a muscle boy also known as a drag performer? You’ve got to give points to Chris for pure resourcefulness. Better yet, aside from the eye candy, the series is adorably engaging.

The first classic prevention message that Chris refused to promote in the video was “use a condom every time.” The vast majority of people, gay or straight, do not use condoms consistently. “The rate of consistent condom use among gay men has been estimated to be as low as 17%,” Chris says, “and PrEP is the answer to that. But we still conflate condom use with morality, which just isn’t helpful.” Instead, the film speaks to the sex lives of gay men as they actually are.

The initial backlash against PrEP as an alternative to condoms — the “Truvada Whore“ argument — doesn’t bother Chris. He knows where it comes from. ”Condoms became an emotional topic,“ he says, after a generation of mortality that provided no other options. ”Now that there is an alternative, people have a hard time letting that message go.”

Rest assured, “The PrEP Project” outlines the risk of other sexually transmitted infections that can occur without condoms. It just refuses to draw a false equivalency between the consequences of HIV and those of other STI’s.

When the first video in the series launched on Facebook, it got more than 40,000 views in the first day. That is, until Facebook pulled it down for violating their irksome, often vague community standards. “That really pissed me off,” Chris admits. “I should have expected it because it is somewhat graphic sex, but I believe the people who pulled it didn’t like the message. It wasn’t about the sex. I got a lot of hate mail.”

Lucky for you, the entire series is included in this post. Enjoy!


Remembering Princess Diana’s AIDS Work 20 Years After Her Death

At the height of AIDS fears, she showed that it was OK to hug people with HIV. Thanks to for this great article.

August 31, 2017

Twenty years ago, on August 31, 1997, Princess Diana died following a car crash in Paris. She was 36 and had rarely been out of the global spotlight since marrying Prince Charles in 1981. But the British royal was much more than a style icon and celebrity gossip mainstay. The Princess of Wales helped break down AIDS stigma and raise awareness of the epidemic.

In April 1987, for example, she officially opened Britain’s first AIDS ward, at London Middlesex Hospital. As the BBC reports, before the event, media outlets speculated about what she would wear—specifically, whether she would don protective gloves. At the time, many people feared HIV could be spread through casual contact. To teach the public otherwise, Diana did not wear gloves. She shook hands with a man who had AIDS. Images of that handshake helped change attitudes about HIV.

Similar scenarios replayed over the years, notably at a pediatrics ward in Harlem, New York, in 1989, where she held a boy with AIDS in her arms, and at Casey House, an AIDS hospice in Toronto, in 1991.

Thks to all who recognized this wk’s 25th anniversary of Princess Diana’s landmark Casey House visit @HenryOfWales

One of  her memorable AIDS contributions, including a speech in which she stated: “HIV does not make people dangerous to know, so you can shake their hands and give them a hug. Heaven knows they need it.”

Known for her humanitarian work, including efforts to ban landmines, Princess Diana was a patron of the National AIDS Trust (an HIV organization) in the United Kingdom, where she attended events, delivered speeches and raised awareness since 1990.

At her funeral, Sir Elton John performed his 1973 song “Candle in the Wind.” He then released the new version, which, according to Forbes, remains the best-selling chart single of all time. Proceeds of the song—it has sold more than 33 million copies worldwide—go toward Princess Diana’s charities.

Today, her legacy of AIDS advocacy lives on in her children, notably Prince Harry who has taken a series of HIV tests in public to raise awareness and who does HIV-related charity work in Lesotho.

As The New York Times noted this week, younger people today, even in Britain, don’t seem to know much about Princess Diana—except how she died and who her children are. Perhaps the 20thanniversary tributes will rekindle her light.

If you want to learn more about Princess Diana, check out the four-hour documentary produced by ABC and People magazine and titled The Story of Diana.

AIDS Film “120 Beats Per Minute” Stands Out at Cannes 

Robin Campillo’s “vital new gay classic” follows the Paris chapter of ACT UP in the early 1990s.

May 23, 2017

Directed by Robin Campillo, the film—originally 120 Battements Par , in French, but also simply BPM—follows the Paris chapter of the AIDS activist group ACT UP in the early 1990s. Vanity Fair reviews the movie as “deeply effective,” characterizing it as “half sober and surveying docudrama, half wrenching personal illness narrative” and labeling the film a “vital new gay classic.”

Of the film, IndieWire said that although the film “never quite takes off into the emotional intensity suggested by the material, it nevertheless arrives at a powerful raison d’être, with layers of its ecosystem slowly assembling until a fully defined revolt reveals itself. The finale is a masterstroke of editing.”

In its own review, The Hollywood Reporter says the film’s style is more contemplative than that of Larry Kramer’s The Normal Heart and that “Campillo has a finely tuned ear for the volatile currents of group discussion. He also has a knack for seamlessly incorporating sociopolitical context into a dramatic canvas—evident in early scenes here when succinct references reveal that even after a decade of heavy losses, 6,000 new cases per year of HIV/AIDS were still being registered in France in the early ’90s, double the number of the U.K. or Germany.”

The Hollywood Reporter also offers an interview with the director, in which he explains, “I actually lived through this time. I was an ACT UP militant in the ’90s.”

Straight With HIV: An Interview With Joshua Middleton

I found this article an interesting read and sometimes it is nice to share stories from a different perspective. This interview is shared from The Body and comes from amfAR, the Foundation for AIDS Research.

March 17, 2017

Joshua Middleton

Joshua Middleton (Credit: Vincent Carrella)

Joshua Middleton was 22 when he was diagnosed with HIV on June 5, 2012, during what he refers to as the prime of his life. As a non-injection drug user, non-promiscuous heterosexual, contracting HIV was the least of his worries. “After all, ‘HIV wasn’t something that happened to someone like me but to someone else,’ I told myself, right?” he says.

In 2014, 13-24-year-olds accounted for about 22% of new HIV diagnoses in the United States, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Most occurred among young gay and bisexual males. Middleton, however, believes he contracted HIV through heterosexual sex.

In observance of National Youth HIV & AIDS Awareness Day on April 10, we spoke to Middleton, now 27, of Murrieta, Calif., about coping in the aftermath of diagnosis, combating HIV stereotypes, and raising awareness among youth.

You describe the moment you learned you had HIV like getting hit by “a ton of bricks.” What helped you cope in the immediate aftermath?

I was in a state of shock. It didn’t really hit me until a couple of minutes after the doctor told me. I had enough information on HIV to know I wasn’t going to die from it. The doctor reiterated that. I was more concerned with stigma. I thought about my life and some of the things I had been through. I had survived necrotizing fasciitis (a flesh-eating disease), septic shock, and multiple hospitalizations. I was in the ICU for three weeks. Being so close to death it really made me think to myself, “Hey, you have been through something way worse. You can get through this too.” I began by building a support network, which included joining an online support group and speaking with HIV advocates. I also educated myself. I knew a little bit about HIV, but I wanted to know everything about HIV because it was now personally affecting me.

You were also really open about your diagnosis from the beginning. What made you decide to disclose openly and honestly, especially so soon?

I think it was kind of a gunshot reaction. I didn’t really think too much. I am someone who carries my emotions on my shoulders. I was hesitant to tell my parents, but it was too big of a thing. I knew the feelings I was going through, how bad it was hitting me, and this was just the first day. I didn’t understand the exact ramifications of what it was like to live with HIV. I just knew it was pretty heavy, and I didn’t know if I was going to be able to carry that burden alone.

My goal is to raise awareness around HIV and AIDS as a young, heterosexual male, not what would be considered high risk. I want people to open their eyes and realize a small amount of risk doesn’t equal no risk.

What was the reaction from your parents? I know you also contacted your ex-girlfriend.

My parents were devastated. My mom and I cried for a couple of hours. She had a lot of questions. The first thing she asked me was, “Are you gay?” I let her know that I was not gay. She wanted to know how I got it. As for my dad, he’s more introverted, but he gave me a big hug, let me know, “Hey we’re going to get through it together.” When I told my ex-girlfriend — we had been broken up for five months — she let out a blood-wrenching scream. It was as if I had told her the whole world was ending. I said, “Look, I’m not telling you that you have it or that you gave it to me. I’m just saying I am HIV-positive, so you need to get tested.” She thought I was going to die of AIDS. She got so upset she couldn’t talk anymore and dropped her phone. Her aunt picked it up and said, “Hey I’m going to take her to get tested, don’t worry.” She was in a state of sheer terror. (Note: Joshua never heard from her after that.)

You wrote in an essay for POZ that you never thought you were at risk. How do we combat the continuing stereotype that HIV only affects certain people?

The heterosexual community needs to speak up and share their stories. I have had people in the poz community say, “You must have slept with someone who is gay. You must have slept with a girl who slept with someone who is bi.” Before I was diagnosed, the only person I had ever met who was HIV-positive was an older gay guy who spoke to my human sexuality class, and I couldn’t relate to his story. If I had a straight guy come into the room that day and say “Hey I’m living with HIV and I’m heterosexual,” it may have opened my eyes much more to say, “Hey this can happen to me.”

Why do you think a disproportionate number of new HIV infections are occurring among youth?

Youth are under the impression that they are invincible — like I was. They need to hear from someone they can relate to. They need to put faces to information. You don’t want to make HIV seem like it’s a death sentence — for the majority of the world it isn’t. But at the same time, you don’t want to promote it like it’s a basket of roses. Living with HIV has emotional, physical, and social ramifications. It’s a delicate balance. There are also problems with our sex education system. In some schools, you can’t even say the word “condom.” In fact, youth don’t have a lot of information just on the basics of HIV at least on a level they can understand. But also, parents aren’t talking to their kids about sex.

You do a lot of online activism through your blog Pozitive Hope, Facebook group, and YouTube channel. Who do you want to reach? And what do you hope to achieve?

I really want to touch people who have been diagnosed with HIV but are not yet at that level of acceptance. They are in the grieving process. Because to me that’s very critical to be able to help someone when they are in the darkest of times. My goal is to raise awareness around HIV and AIDS as a young, heterosexual male, not what would be considered high risk. I want people to open their eyes and realize a small amount of risk doesn’t equal no risk. And people really need to not get so caught up in the numbers but realize that HIV can happen to anyone.

PozQoL – a new survey valuing Quality of life among PLHIV – take part today!

Sometimes I feel like we are always committing too and getting involved in another survey but if we do not take part then how can we really get the information and data we need to help give guidance about a range of issues of relevance to us as PLHIV in 2017.

Help create a better way to understand quality of life of PLHIV. Please fill in the survey now!

PozQoL is creating a better way of measuring quality of life of PLHIV.

We want to hear from PLHIV all over Australia, including people of all genders and sexualities.

PozQoL is an important study. We are testing different ways of asking about quality of life in order to improve community and health programs for PLHIV in Australia.

 You can fill in the survey online at:

The survey will be online from 27 March 2017 until 15 May 2017.

The PozQoL survey is run by the Australian Research Centre in Sex, Health and Society (ARCSHS) at La Trobe University. The survey has been developed in consultation with a variety of community groups and is conducted in partnership with National Association of People with HIV Australia (NAPWHA) and ViiV Healthcare Australia. 

If you would like further information about the project, please contact the Australian Research Centre in Sex, Health and Society at La Trobe University via email ( or phone (+61 3 9479 8700). Please ask to speak to the main researcher on this project, Dr Graham Brown.

If you have any complaints or concerns contact the Senior Human Ethics Officer,  La Trobe University, P: 03 9479 1443, E: Please quote the application reference number S17_004.

The New M.A.C VIVA Glam Ambassadors are here – Empire’s Taraji P Henson and Jussie Smollett!

Taraji P. Henson and Jussie Smollett Go From “Empire” to MAC Viva Glam [VIDEOS]
The cosmetics line has raised over $450 million for AIDS causes since 1994.
Ariana recently did it. So did Miley, Gaga and Cyndi. Even Ricky Martin and k.d. lang have puckered up for MAC Cosmetics to raise money for AIDS causes. And now we meet the new faces of the Viva Glam campaign: Taraji P. Henson and Jussie Smollett, stars of the hit TV show Empire.
Created in 1994, the MAC AIDS Fund has raised over $450 million by selling its unique lipstick and lipglass specifically to help men, women and children across the globe affected by HIV/AIDS. For her moment in the MAC spotlight, Henson created a matte fuchsia with pearl lipstick and matching shimmery lipglass, each available for $17 with 100 percent of the proceeds going to the cause.
“One lipstick literally provides one rapid oral HIV test, 14 HIV tests for pregnant mothers, [or] 254 condoms to prevent HIV infection,” explains Smollett in a Teen Vogue profile on the Empire duo’s AIDS advocacy.
Watch the campaign’s cute commercial and an interview below—we love the ’90s “Shoop” vibe—and visit MAC here to order the cosmetics.
For more about the history of the Viva Glam campaign, including a glamazon gallery, visit

National Day of Women Living with HIV – promoting awareness

As we move to celebrate International Women’s Day we are also proud to be supporting the National Day of Women Living with HIV…please see the press release from NAPWHA and Femfatales…

The following points that Katherine Leane makes are important  and raise some valid points for us all to consider on this important day.

National Day of Women Living with HIV — promoting awareness

Celebrate. Advocate. Inspire. Empower.
March 9 will be the second National Day of Women Living with HIV. Coming the day after International Women’s Day, this awareness-raising day was created by Femfatales, a network of women living with HIV of the National Association of People with HIV Australia (NAPWHA).

“We are aiming to create a greater awareness of the needs of women living with HIV in Australia, “said Femfatales Chair, Katherine Leane. “It’s hard to believe that in 2017 some people don’t think that there are women living with HIV in this country. But there are around 3, 000 of us, or about 10 percent of the HIV-positive population.

“Because of the perception that women are not at risk of HIV, women don’t test for it. Many women who are diagnosed with HIV here have never tested for it previously, not believing they were at risk. This can present them with serious health challenges as a late diagnosis can mean that they have developed a compromised immune system and sometimes, an AIDS-defining illness.

“On top of this, many suburban and regional GPs have never diagnosed someone with HIV, do not always recognise the symptoms or risk factors and are not sure where to refer patients for specialist care. It is very important that women diagnosed in these settings get referred to appropriate medical care and to the peer support agencies that can help people with their diagnoses.

“The more people talk about HIV, the more we encourage women to test for it, the more we will be able to diagnose and treat women appropriately. This is the aim of this special day,” said Kath.

“We encourage all agencies involved with and concerned about women’s sexual health to hold a morning or afternoon tea or other event to help raise awareness of HIV agencies that support women living with and affected by HIV.”

For more details contact:

Femfatales Convenor, Katherine Leane
0410 707 923

NAPWHA Executive Director, Aaron Cogle
0468 438 214

NAPWHA is Australia’s peak non-government organisation representing community-based groups of people living with HIV. NAPWHA provides advocacy, policy, representation, health promotion and outreach at a national level.

When We Rise – a must see!

SBS Miniseries “When We Rise” Features AIDS Activism [VIDEO]

Real-life heroes inspired this chronicle of LGBT history. The first episode airs Saturday March 11 at 8.30pm on SBS.  All too often we get asked about the history of the LGBT movement and its affect on our lives as we attempt to move forward and linked to this is HIV/AIDS history and the affect that the epidemic has played on many aspects of the story.
An epic retelling of the LGBT civil rights movement in the US , spanning four decades and based on real-life pioneers, the SBS miniseries When We Rise  of course includes HIV/AIDS as a prominent part of that history.

The four-part series is written by Dustin Lance Black, who won an Academy Award for his Milk screenplay, about assassinated gay rights leader Harvey Milk. According to SBS press materials, Gus Van Sant, who directed 2008’s Milk, helmed the first episode of When We Rise.

Starring Guy Pearce, Mary-Louise Parker, Rachel Griffiths, Michael Kenneth Williams and with guest appearances such as Whoopi Goldberg, T.R. Knight, Debra Winger, David Hyde Pierce and Phylicia Rashad, the miniseries centers on the stories inspired by real-life LGBT leaders, including Cleve Jones (played by Austin P. McKenzie and, later, Guy Pearce), who created what became the AIDS Memorial Quilt. Jones, along with transgender activist Cecilia Chung (played by Ivory Aquino, who is transgender and was recently profiled in the US People magazine) and several other people in the story are HIV positive.

“There have been so many points in my life when I thought I was done and the movement was done, and I want people to be aware of that right now with Trump,” Jones told The Daily Beast in an extensive interview. “When it seems like it may be over, it’s never over.” In talking about the AIDS crisis, he adds that in San Francisco’s Castro area, “the total death toll in this neighborhood was 25,000—half the gay men of my generation. Half died, half of us survived, and many of those who did survive are still here. That’s a lot of personal tragedy.”

Guy Pearce plays AIDS activist Cleve Jones in “When We Rise.”ABC/Eike Schroter

The battle against HIV/AIDS is portrayed in the miniseries alongside other social justice causes such as same-sex marriage equality.

Parts of When We Rise are based on Jones’s recent memoir of the same title.

Ivory Aquino plays transgender activist Cecilia Chung in “When We Rise.”ABC/Eike Schroter

Michael Kenneth Williams plays community organizer Ken Jones in “When We Rise.”ABC/Eike Schroter