Giant toilet visits Melbourne’s CBD for International AIDS Conference


21 Jul 2014 | AU

A giant toilet will land in Melbourne’s CBD this week to alert people to the 2.5 billion people in the world without a toilet, and to the water, sanitation and hygiene needs of people living with HIV. 

People are encouraged to visit and sit on the giant toilet which will be located outside St Paul’s Cathedral on Tuesday 22 and Wednesday 23 July 2014. Visitors can take a photo of themselves on the giant toilet and send social media messages of support for universal access to safe water and sanitation.

“Can you imagine life without a toilet? For one third of the world’s population it is a daily reality. And for those living with HIV, 90% of whom experience diarrhoea, imagine not having a toilet?,” said WaterAid Australia Acting Chief Executive Ms Rosie Wheen.

“People living with HIV are at risk of life threatening infections, many of which in developing countries are caused by unsafe drinking water, inadequate sanitation and poor hygiene. Diarrhoea in particular can interrupt the absorption of medication and cause deficiency in essential nutrients, leading to malnutrition and further exacerbating the consequences of HIV and AIDS,” said Ms Wheen.

“Children with a mother living with HIV who has experienced diarrhoea are at increased risk of diarrhoea, and diarrhoea is the second largest killer of children under five globally. Also practices such as replacement feeding with infant formula milk require safe water for breast-milk substitution,” said Ms Wheen.

“The risk of diarrheoal disease can be mitigated by access to safe water, adequate sanitation and hygiene. When treatment and safe storage of drinking water, safe disposal of excreta and hand washing are practised together, deaths from diarrhoeal diseases can be reduced,” said Ms Wheen.

The giant toilet is visiting Melbourne this week in conjunction with the International AIDS Conference which is being attended by 15,000 delegates who are discussing how to end the pandemic.

Photo opportunity

When: 8.30am – 11am on Tuesday 22 July and 11am – 2pm on Wednesday 23 July 2014
Where: The Giant Toilet will be outside St Paul’s Cathedral on the corner of Flinders Lane and Swanston Street, Melbourne
What: People sitting on giant toilet in Melbourne’s CBD

Facts and figures

  • 35.3 million people in the world live with HIV
  • 748 million people in the world are without access to safe, clean water
  • 2.5 billion people in the world are without access to basic sanitation
  • 90% of people living with HIV will experience diarrhoea
  • Diarrhoea is the second biggest killer of children under five years old worldwide
  • Hand washing with soap, clean water and basic toilets can prevent the spread of diarrhoea
  • 1.5 litres of safe water is needed to take antiretroviral medication. Diarrhoea may reduce the effectiveness of this life saving drug


Kirrily Johns, Communications Manager: 03 9001 8246 or

About WaterAid

WaterAid’s vision is of a world where everyone has access to safe water and sanitation. The international organisation works in 26 countries across Africa, Asia, Central America and the Pacific region to transform lives by improving access to safe water, hygiene and sanitation in some of the world’s poorest communities. Since 1981, WaterAid has reached 19.2 million people with safe water and, since 2004, 15.1 million people with sanitation. For more information, visit: