Timeline of Key Events


Homosexuality decriminalised in Victoria


Pneumocystis pneumonia (PCP) and Karposi’s sarcoma first recognised in gay men in New York and San Francisco


ALSO Foundation (Alternative Lifestyle Organisation) establishes a Health Sub-Committee to look reports coming from the United States

Centre for Disease Control in Atlanta adopts the name Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome (AIDS), replacing Gay-Related Immune Deficiency (GRID)

First case of AIDS identified in Australia, in an American tourist at Sydney’s St Vincent’s Hospital in October


First Australian citizen diagnosed with AIDS in Melbourne in April

Formation of Sydney AIDS Action Committee in May

Public meeting held at the Royal Dental Hospital in Melbourne on 16 June with over 300 attendees agreeing on the need for an organisation to deal with AIDS in Victoria

Australia’s first AIDS death at Prince Henry’s Hospital in Melbourne on 8 July

Founding meeting of the Victorian AIDS Action Committee (VAAC) at the Laird O’Cockpen Hotel on 12 July

Formation of the National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC) working party on AIDS

Ninth National Conference of Lesbians and Homosexual Men held at La Trobe University in September

Second Australian AIDS death on 11 October

NHMRC establishes a national register of AIDS cases


New South Wales decriminalises sex between two men

Seven AIDS cases reported in Australia

First Candlelight Vigil held in Melbourne on 13 May

American scientist Dr Robert Gallo identifies a virus he calls human T-cell leukaemia virus (HTLV-III) as the cause of AIDS

Queensland government announces in November that four babies have died after receiving AIDS infected blood donations

Establishment of the National AIDS Task Force and National Advisory Committee on AIDS (NACAIDS)

National Reference Centre established at Fairfield Hospital in Melbourne to evaluate technology for antibody testing

The Victorian AIDS Council (VAC) established at a public meeting on 6 December


49 AIDS cases reported in Australia

VAC is incorporated on 16 January

VAC’s ‘You’ll Never Forget the Feeling’ campaign is launched

Antibody testing becomes widely available

Australia becomes the first country in the world to adopt universal blood screening procedures for HIV

Four Corners report, ‘AIDS’, screens on the ABC on 19 March

Media flurry erupts when HIV positive three-year-old Eve van Grafhorst is barred from her pre-school

VAC gains funding to establish an HIV/AIDS specialist medical clinic and the Gay Men’s Community Health Centre is incorporated to run this service

First VAC Support Volunteer Care Team established

First National AIDS Conference held in Melbourne in November

Formation of the Australian Federation of AIDS Organisations (AFAO)


162 AIDS cases reported in Australia

Announcement of approval to establish Virology Research Unit at Fairfield Hospital

Condom advertisements allowed on late night television

Federal summit on antibody testing recommends that HIV testing should be voluntary

AZT (Azidothymidine or Zidovudine) is announced as a possible treatment for HIV in the United States

Second National AIDS Conference held in Sydney in October

David Williams Fund established by VAC to provide support to improve the financial, health and emotional wellbeing of people living with HIV

Fairfield Hospital staff provide the first training program for the VAC and other volunteers to care for people with HIV at home

VAC’s ‘It’s Black and White Condomwise’ campaign is launched


385 AIDS cases reported in Australia

NHMRC begins first clinical trial of AZT

Grim Reaper television advertisement first screens in April

AIDS Trust of Australia formally founded by Governor General

Australia hosts regional meeting of World Health Organization dedicated to AIDS in July

New treatment emerges, hailed as the first big step in beating HIV/AIDS: the drug Retrovir (AZT or Zidovudine) begins to be used to treat people infected with HIV

Rate of AIDS cases increases sharply causing demand for home care, nursing, counselling, transport and financial aid

Amendment to the Equal Opportunities Act so that it is illegal to discriminate against people with HIV/AIDS


745 AIDS cases reported in Australia

Third National AIDS Conference held in Hobart, at which a group of HIV positive people take to the stage and demand to be made visible

First Living Well Conference held at Fairfield Hospital

National People Living With AIDS Coalition (NPLWAC) formed in August

Australia’s 1000th AIDS notification, with 500 deaths since the first diagnosis in 1982

Formal establishment of People Living With AIDS (Victoria)

Integration of the Victorian AIDS Council and Gay Men’s Community Health Centre

First annual World AIDS Day, to focus attention on fighting the disease, held on December 1 with the theme ‘A World United Against AIDS’

Australian AIDS Memorial Quilt project established and first displayed on World AIDS Day

Gay Men’s Community Health Centre clinic opens for business


1168 AIDS cases reported in Australia

Federal government releases its green paper on AIDS, ‘A time to care and a time to act’

Second Living Well Conference held in Sydney


The controversial ‘When You Say Yes’ campaign with the famous ‘two boys kissing’ poster released, promoting safe sex to young gay men

VAC signs a formal partnership agreement with the Royal District Nursing Service bringing clinical resources to clients, volunteers and staff

Introduction of VAC Beats Outreach Program


Public protests against the possible closure of Fairfield Hospital, which continues to provide care for people with HIV/AIDS in a unique and non-stigmatising way

Approval from St Kilda Council for site at 46 Acland Street to be used as a community centre for HIV positive people

Release of the Baum Review on the future of drug evaluation in Australia, which makes it easier for HIV positive people to access drugs being developed overseas


The drug Hivid, used with AZT, marks the beginning of HIV/AIDS combination therapies


The Positive Living Centre housing the Gay Men’s Health Centre clinic opens in St Kilda in April

HIV/AIDS Legal Centre established by VAC to provide free legal advice to people living with and affected by HIV/AIDS

Over 800 people diagnosed with HIV in Victoria and VAC’s Community Support Program providing over 600 individual care teams and other support


Victorian government tries to shut down Fairfield Hospital


Legislation in Victoria makes it illegal to discriminate on the grounds of HIV/AIDS infection

International AIDS Conference in Vancouver highlights benefits of early intervention, combination therapy and viral load testing

Indecision and tension around which hospital should assume responsibility for HIV services leads to resignation of VAC/GMHC Board

Review of organisation recommends that PLWHA Victoria become an independent organisation

Despite years of protest action, Fairfield Hospital closes and The Alfred Hospital and Royal Melbourne Hospital officially take over HIV/AIDS services

Treatment options take another step forward with the introduction of powerful HIV fighting drugs called protease inhibitors


Highly Active Anti-Retroviral Therapy (HAART), consisting of three or more anti-retroviral drugs, replaces the expression ‘triple combination therapy’ and becomes the new standard of HIV care

HIV Post Exposure Prophylaxis (PEP) became available as a treatment for the prevention of HIV for those who may have been exposed to HIV

PLWHA Victoria becomes a constituted organisation and a memorandum of understanding is established between PLWHA and VAC/GMHC


Partnership with MAC Cosmetics begins, providing funding for the David Williams Fund


Discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation is outlawed in Victoria


Positive Living Centre moves to the newly renovated Braille Library, providing a much larger space and enhanced services for people living with HIV/AIDS


Gay and Lesbian Health Victoria established and managed by a consortium including VAC/GMHC, the Australian Research Centre in Sex Health & Society and Women’s Health Victoria


Worldwide, 40.3 million people are living with HIV/AIDS and 4.9 million people newly infected in 2005


Drama Downunder launched and went on to become VAC’s longest running and most successful social marketing campaign on sexual health


VAC becomes a founding member of the National LGBT Health Alliance, a peak national organisation established to improve the health and wellbeing of LGBT people in Australia

Integration of In Home Support Program into the HIV Services Program of VAC/GMHC


VAC celebrates 25 years of achievements

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