Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Christmas crunch

I can’t believe how quickly this year has gone. It has literally flown by what with the wedding plans and honeymoon etc, and now it’s two and a half weeks until Christmas! Unbelievable.

So it’s no surprise that I have done basically no Christmas shopping at all – it’s a mater of time and money. Having a wedding this year really did empty the old bank account, so I am trying to think of good ideas for gifts that don’t involve burning a hole in my pocket.

So this is what I have come up with so far:

-Edible treats – cookies, cakes and preserves in fancy jars (no one will remember what I got them if they think back in a year’s time, but at least they’ll enjoy eating them).
-Gift vouchers – not really a personal gift (let’s face it, vouchers are great for those feeling lazy).
-Pot plants – plants that flower in festive colours, but may not stay alive for more than a few weeks depending on who you give them to.
-A homemade voucher booklet good for massages, foot rubs, housework, a candlelit dinner, taking out the bins etc.
-A hanky set (yay!), socks, underwear (the kind you get from Big W).

Really, I’m not crazy about any of these ideas... and I am not too sure how happy I would be to get any of them. Maybe all items as one combined gift?

Ok, so they’re lousy ideas and I guess I’m just going to have to be good and budget like crazy.

I read in a Sydney Morning Herald article that around November and December we collectively load an extra $3 billion worth of purchases onto credit cards each year - $1 billion of that doesn’t get paid off.

You know, if we were all good Christians, we wouldn’t worry about the gifts, because they’re not the most important thing during this time. But it’s society’s way of making a dollar and the lure of the beautifully decorated shop windows is too hard to resist.

Wish me and my bank account luck!

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

World Aids Day 1.12.10

It's World Aids Day today - Check out what Queenslanders are doing to make a difference.

Get the facts

Most of us are only too aware of the serious challenges that HIV and AIDS continue to pose around the globe.

HIV/AIDS still exists in Australia. The annual number of new HIV diagnoses in Australia has been stable at around 1000 cases in the past 4 years. In 2009, a total of 1049 new infections were diagnosed in Australia.

HIV can affect anyone. There is no vaccine or cure for HIV or AIDS.

The good news is that the transmission of HIV is preventable. By being informed about how HIV is transmitted and how to protect ourselves and others, we can enjoy life with safer sex and prevent the spread of HIV.

So take the first step – inform yourself about HIV/AIDS. This booklet contains important information about HIV and AIDS, including how you can protect yourself and where to go for more information and help. Take time to read it and then pass it on to your friends, family and loved ones. You may be saving your life and others.

What is HIV?

HIV (Human Immunodeficiency Virus) is the virus that can cause Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome (AIDS). They are not the same thing.

HIV weakens or breaks down the body’s immune system and makes the body vulnerable to disease and infection. Some people who have been infected with HIV experience flu like symptoms but others do not notice any symptoms for many years.

What is AIDS?

AIDS is not the same as HIV. A person living with HIV does not necessarily have AIDS, but all people with AIDS are HIV positive.

AIDS can occur after many years of damage to the immune system caused by HIV. This damage to the body’s immune system makes the body vulnerable to disease and infection. During the advanced stages of HIV infection, a person may develop a number of ‘AIDS-defining illnesses’ which can be very debilitating and possibly lead to death.

How is HIV transmitted?

HIV may be transmitted when blood, semen and vaginal fluid from an infected person enters the body of an uninfected person. This can happen through unprotected anal, vaginal and oral sex, or when sharing any injecting equipment. Mothers who are HIV-positive can transmit HIV to their babies during pregnancy, during vaginal delivery and when breast feeding.

While it is infectious, HIV it is not spread like air-borne viruses such as the flu. It can’t be passed on by hugging, shaking hands, coughing or sneezing. Nor can it be passed on by sharing toilets and washing facilities or using eating utensils or consuming food and beverages handled by someone who has HIV.

What can I do to protect myself from HIV?

Always practice safe sex

It can take a single instance of unprotected sex with an infected partner for HIV to be passed on. Condoms can help provide protection from infection by preventing semen, vaginal fluid or blood from coming into direct contact with another person.

Sex can be made safer by using a condom together with water-based lubricants (lube) which help prevent the condoms from breaking. When used correctly and together, condoms and lube are the best protection against the transmission of HIV.

Travelling and your protection

If you are sexually active and travelling, especially to countries where there is a high prevalence of HIV/AIDS, make sure you take condoms and sachets of lube with you – in some countries they are difficult to find or are of a low quality.

Medical procedures in unsterile conditions and blood transfusions in some countries are also important risk factors to consider.

Sharing isn’t always caring

When it comes to needles and personal care items (eg razors), there’s a good reason to be careful – HIV and other diseases can be transmitted through blood.

If you inject, always use new injecting equipment every time and never share any of your injecting equipment. If you are getting a tattoo, piercing or acupuncture make sure the equipment is sterile.


A blood test is the only way to know if you have HIV. You can get a confidential test by visiting your doctor or sexual health clinic. For further information check the government Health Department website in you State or Territory.

What can I do if I have been exposed to HIV?

Post Exposure Prophylaxis (PEP)

If you think you have been exposed to HIV – for example, as a result of a condom breaking or leakage, you should seek medical advice as soon as possible.

PEP is a four-week course of one or more anti-HIV (or anti-retroviral) drugs which may stop HIV infection becoming established. The drugs must be taken within three days of exposure to the virus. Research shows that PEP can prevent the likelihood of infection with HIV, but it is not 100% effective. For that reason PEP should only be considered an emergency prevention strategy of last resort.

In Australia, PEP can be accessed through sexual health clinics or GPs who specialise in HIV/AIDS, or through hospital accident and emergency departments.

Further information on PEP you can contact your local GP or sexual health clinic.

Understanding and supporting people living with HIV/AIDS

HIV/AIDS can affect anyone and people that are living with HIV or AIDS often feel isolated because of their fear of being discriminated against and not being accepted.

Feeling accepted and having ongoing support available can make a big difference in helping people deal with the physical and emotional challenges HIV or AIDS brings.

World AIDS Day, held on 1 December each year, is a significant opportunity to show your support for people living with HIV or AIDS. Even the simplest gestures – such as wearing a red ribbon pin – can go a long way to showing that you care and breaking down community stigmas.

If you know someone who is living with HIV or AIDS, it is important to remember that there are services and organisations that can provide assistance if needed. These services and organisations can offer you advice on how you can support people living with, or closely affected by HIV/AIDS.

Stigma and Discrimination

HIV/AIDS does not discriminate, people do. Stigma and discrimination will continue to exist so long as societies as a whole continue to judge people who have HIV/AIDS. You can help change this by encouraging others not to judge.

From the World Aids Day Australia website