Healthcare workers and advocates gathered in Memorial Park over the weekend to celebrate the progress made over the years to win the fight against HIV/AIDS.
There was a lot to celebrate - not only the medical breakthroughs to combat the virus, but also the social change that has helped put a stop to the stigma and discrimination.
One of the people at the event was Kevin Schamburg, who knows all too well how far we’ve come.
Mr Schamburg is now HIV negative, but he still bears the scars from the years of bullying he faced at his old workplace.
Some of his co-workers insisted that Mr Schamburg should be kept away from meetings, toilets, kitchens, and banned from using the office coffee cups.
“It was one of the worst days of my life,” he said.
Since then he has campaigned tirelessly to educate people about HIV; about how it can’t be transmitted through the air or through coffee cups.
More importantly, he wants people with HIV to be considered as human beings and treated with respect and dignity.
He has seen a lot of improvement over the years, but he said that there were still some lingering attitudes that needed to be changed.
“There is still a long way to go to overcome stigma and discrimination, but we must all continue to speak out against it.”
On the medical side of things, Griffith Sexual Health Clinic’s Sally Davoren has seen enormous progress since she started in 1999.
Technological breakthroughs and improvements to the medical system have allowed Ms Davoren to treat illnesses on the spot that would have otherwise gone untreated for months.
“Back in 1999 people were taking many tablets and facing many complications with their disease,” Ms Davoren said.
“Today people with HIV are living long and healthy lives.”