As the world marks World AIDS Day on December 1, we emphasize the important role that communities play in halting HIV transmission. The global theme for this year, "Let Communities Lead," underlines the strength of community work in the global fight against HIV.
Community-led efforts are at the heart of the fight against HIV, yet they grapple with limited resources. On World AIDS Day, we recognize these challenges and commit to working more closely with them to combat HIV effectively.
Our message is clear: "Let Communities Lead." This powerful message, according to Barbara Luisi, Manager of the Multicultural HIV and Hepatitis Service (MHAHS), echoes not only on World AIDS Day but throughout December and beyond as we unite for change.
In line with the 2023 Australian campaign theme, "Inclusion, Respect, Equity," we emphasize the urgent need to make HIV prevention, testing, and treatment services more inclusive. Our goal is to tackle HIV stigma and ensure accessibility for all, including community members from diverse backgrounds.
HIV remains a public health concern in Australia, with approximately 29,460 people living with HIV. Alarmingly, nearly one in ten Australians with HIV are unaware of their status, potentially unknowingly transmitting the virus.
The fear of HIV stigma and discrimination has deterred many from testing, especially in diverse communities. Early testing is crucial for prompt treatment, and it's vital to note that HIV treatment is available free of charge, even without a Medicare card.
Professor David Templeton, Head of Department of Sexual Health Medicine in Sydney Local Health District, underscores the importance of community engagement in addressing HIV stigma. He believes that through collaborative efforts, we can boost HIV testing rates, encourage those at risk to take the HIV prevention pill known as “PreP” and consequently reduce HIV transmission.
To support this campaign, MHAHS is promoting its award-winning resource, "HIV: What you need to know," available in eight languages: English, Arabic, Chinese, Indonesian, Portuguese, Spanish, Thai, and Vietnamese. The e-booklet can be downloaded from the MHAHS website, and free hard copies are available upon request. Supporters can also access a toolkit outlining the variety of multilingual resources and how to support the campaign.
For media interviews, please contact Sonam Paljor at 9515 1234 or email
Hepatitis is a global issue that demands urgent attention. That's why this year's World Hepatitis Day (28 July) carries the powerful theme of "We're Not Waiting". It's a call to action to increase efforts in eliminating hepatitis and recognizing those who are already making a positive impact in their lives and communities. This campaign is driven by the belief that we can eliminate hepatitis by 2030 through community action and collective determination.
Joining the cause, the Multicultural HIV and Hepatitis Service (MHAHS) is promoting its booklet "Hepatitis B. It's Family Business." This comprehensive booklet has been specifically designed for individuals from diverse cultural and linguistic backgrounds. It is available in multiple languages including English, Arabic, Chinese, Indonesian, Khmer, Korean, Thai, and Vietnamese. You can download the e-booklet here or order hard copies by contacting MHAHS.
"We cannot afford to delay hepatitis B testing. Many people in our community might not even realize they have chronic hepatitis B," warned Professor Benjamin Cowie, director of the Australian WHO Collaborating Centre for Viral Hepatitis at the Doherty Institute, emphasizing the urgency of the matter.
"It is important to understand that without proper care and treatment, hepatitis B can progress to liver cancer, which is truly alarming. Shockingly, every 30 seconds, someone around the world loses their life to a hepatitis-related illness in 2023. That's why early diagnosis and prompt treatment are absolutely vital to prevent these heartbreaking outcomes. The only way to know for sure if you have hepatitis B is by undergoing a simple test. Don't wait, get tested today."
In Australia, an estimated 200,385 people were living with chronic hepatitis B by the end of 2021. Among them, around 76% were born overseas, with Southeast Asia and Northeast Asia contributing significantly to these numbers. In NSW nearly 72,058 people are living with chronic hepatitis B, but less than 27% are receiving regular care and treatment. This disproportionately affects community members born overseas.
That's why the "Are you living with hepatitis B? Find Out. Get Tested" campaign is urging people from diverse communities to prioritize their liver health and get tested for hepatitis B. The campaign's messages are available in English, Arabic, Chinese, Korean, and Vietnamese to ensure accessibility and inclusivity.
"We are fully committed to helping our diverse communities prioritize their well-being and liver health," stated Gai Stackpool, Deputy Manager of the Multicultural HIV and Hepatitis Service.
"Our campaign provides individuals with culturally relevant information, empowering them to make informed choices and take meaningful action."
We strongly encourage community members to consult their doctors about hepatitis B and schedule a test. Hepatitis B testing is free if you have a Medicare card. For those without a Medicare Card, please contact NSW Health Sexual Health Clinics regarding free Hepatitis testing. Remember, all conversations with your doctor in Australia remain confidential.
For interviews in languages other than English, please call Sonam Paljor on 0436 649 000 or email
The Multicultural HIV and Hepatitis Service (MHAHS) is encouraging people from diverse communities to get tested for HIV during the HIV Testing Week. With around 9% of people with HIV in Australia unaware of their status, testing is crucial for the elimination of HIV transmission by 2030.
Barbara Luisi, Director of MHAHS, emphasized that HIV testing has never been more accessible, with a range of options available.
"These testing options are widely available and easily accessible, allowing individuals to take control of their health and well-being," says Ms Luisi. Options available include Rapid HIV Testing, Home-based Testing, and Dried Blood Spot Testing. For more information, visit https://mhahs.org.au/index.php/en/hiv/testing-options.
MHAHS is also promoting their award-winning booklet "HIV: What You Need to Know" which is available for download as an e-booklet at https://mhahs.org.au/index.php/en/hiv/hiv-what-you-need-to-know. The booklet contains essential information about HIV, testing, treatment, and living with HIV.
For those who prefer a private testing option, they can choose Dried Blood Spot (DBS) testing which can be ordered online at https://mhahs.org.au/index.php/en/hiv/testing-for-hiv-at-home. DBS testing is easy to use and provides accurate results in a matter of days.
MHAHS is running a multimedia campaign across 10 communities, which includes a toolkit containing details of HIV booklets, videos, radio announcements, and social media tiles. The toolkit is designed to help organizations and individuals promote HIV testing and awareness in their communities. For more information, visit https://www.mhahs.org.au/index.php/ar/dbs-kit
For more information, contact Sonam Paljor on 0436 649 000 or email
There is a pressing need to make HIV prevention, testing and treatment services more inclusive, according to this year’s World AIDS Day campaign. The campaign theme ‘Equalise’ highlights the need to tackle HIV stigma and increase access to these key services, so they are welcoming to everyone including people from diverse communities.
HIV remains a public health concern in Australia, with an estimated 29,090 people living with HIV (Kirby Institute 2020 report). Nearly one in ten Australians living with HIV are unaware they have the virus and may be unknowingly passing on the virus to others.
‘Fear of HIV stigma and discrimination is a major reason behind why many people from diverse communities still hesitate to test for HIV,’ said Barbara Luisi, Manager of the Multicultural HIV and Hepatitis Service (MHAHS).
‘Our communities are more likely to miss out on accessing key HIV services on time. The proportion of late HIV diagnoses is higher among people from CALD communities. Testing early is key for accessing HIV treatment quickly. HIV treatment is free, even if you don’t have a Medicare card.’
Engaging people from diverse communities is a critical component of our response to HIV, according to Dr Rachel Burdon, Acting Head of Sexual Health Services at Sydney Local Health District
‘Community engagement provides an opportunity for individuals and organisations to play an active role in tackling HIV stigma. We need to continue working together to improve uptake of HIV testing, and reduce HIV transmission,’ said Dr Burdon.
The Multicultural HIV and Hepatitis Service (MHAHS) is supporting the campaign by promoting its award-winning resource HIV: What you need to know, available in eight languages: English, Arabic, Chinese, Indonesian, Portuguese, Spanish, Thai, and Vietnamese. The e-booklet can be downloaded from the MHAHS website, and free hard copies are available to order.
For media interviews, please contact Sonam Paljor at 9515 1234 or email