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Global HIV/AIDS Campaign Launched

The International Red Cross Movement today launched a global campaign to reduce HIV/AIDS-related stigma and discrimination around the world, to coincide with World Red Cross Day (8 May).

With the HIV/AIDS pandemic reaching massive proportions, particularly in Africa, the Red Cross Movement is committed to ‘breaking the silence’ by fighting the stigma and discrimination which are contributing to thousands of deaths and new infections worldwide.

“It is becoming increasingly clear that a key reason for the spread of HIV/AIDS internationally is the stigma attached to it,” said New Zealand Red Cross National President, Patricia O’Brien. “Individuals who are infected may not know or may not want to talk about it, governments may refuse to acknowledge its existence, and cultural barriers and beliefs can get in the way.”

“Talking about HIV/AIDS means talking about difficult or taboo subjects – sex, drugs, blood and death.”

“Yet, it will only be by talking about the issue, and acknowledging the real causes and threats of the virus, that we can begin to reduce its spread worldwide.”

As well as continuing its on-going prevention and community care programmes, the Red Cross will work internationally to change perceptions, attitudes, policies and behaviour in order to ensure those people who are HIV-positive or have AIDS are able to receive the appropriate care, have access to affordable drugs and can live full and useful lives within their communities.

The campaign also aims to prevent a further spread of the infection and to increase people’s willingness to be tested, and to protect themselves and their families.

In support of the campaign, the New Zealand Red Cross is funding two projects in Fiji, a country increasingly at risk from HIV/AIDS and in which many people still find it difficult to openly deal with the subject.

The programmes, being delivered by the Fiji Red Cross, include a peer education project for youths living in rural areas of Fiji to teach them about HIV/AIDS and the risks of drug abuse, and a project to develop care and support services for all people living with HIV/AIDS in Fiji.

Ends

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