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National, News

Aussie podcast shining light on HIV community and historical heroes

A local podcast is highlighting the experiences of people living with HIV, the gay community, and their allies.

Launched on World AIDS Day to mark this year’s 40th anniversary of the first identified cases of AIDS, Sydney’s Eastside FM has produced a second season of How Much Do You Know?

Hosted by journalist and radio presenter Tim Brunero, the podcast series explores HIV and how the pandemic has affected Australians between the 1980s and now.

Brunero said that the current COVID-19 pandemic had brought attention back to public health matters.

“Suddenly, we’ve all had to confront viruses,” he told Pink Advocate.

“The idea of revisiting HIV becomes very interesting… Because it was [injecting] drug users and gays and people on the fringe… It’s much different now, and we’ve got more liberal attitudes.”

The podcast begins with the early days of HIV/AIDS, discussing the atmosphere of homophobia, fear, and misinformation that existed in the 1980s.

People from a range of genders and backgrounds share how their lives have been affected by having HIV.

In Episode 1, Natasha shares her story and how her perfect life was interrupted by her diagnosis.

Richard Keldoulis discusses in Episode 2 his journey, his drag alter ego Jennifer Hopelezz, and his groundbreaking positive-only fetish club nights in Amsterdam. 

In Episode 3, Kalkadoon, Barada Barna, and Wangi man Michael explains how his HIV diagnosis changed his life for the better.

Dropping soon, Episode 4 features writer Nick Cook discussing how Australia led the world in its HIV response, even as the homophobia stirred by the pandemic threatened to undo the work of LGBTIQA+ activists just a few years after the first Mardi Gras.

Episode 5 includes the story of Jane Costello and how her family reacted to her HIV diagnosis.

COVID-19 contact restrictions meant that Costello was interviewed for the podcast in an unusual way – wearing a microphone in a parked car across from Brunero.

Brunero said that Australia was “very fucking lucky” in the early days of the HIV/AIDS pandemic.

“You had a body of really spirited, left-wing [LGBTIQA+] activists who got us through the nonsense that was being gay in the 70s,” he said.

“That core of people made being gay legal, and HIV arrived at that point – the army was assembled.”

With the fresh perspective of living through another pandemic, this new season of the podcast takes listeners on a journey through the history of HIV and the innovations, resilience, and personalities defining its impact on Australia.

How Much Do You Know? is available to access now through Eastside FM.

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