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AIDS Foundation Fundraising Collection Nov 29

AIDS Foundation National Fundraising Collection, 29th November

New Zealand AIDS Foundation today expressed hope that New Zealanders would give generously to its national Red Ribbon Day appeal on Friday 29th November.

Kevin Hague, Foundation Executive Director, said:

“ There are now more people living with HIV in New Zealand than ever before, and the risk from unsafe sex is higher than ever. Yet New Zealanders seem to have become complacent about HIV – this is a disaster. In this country we have done well compared to other countries, but we are still in the early days of the epidemic. We need to redouble our efforts, not relax them.”

The Foundation is mounting a street collection in most cities and provincial centres around the country. New Zealanders can also contribute by calling 0900 RIBBON (0900 742 266 – an automatic $10 donation).

Mr. Hague said that as Government funding had nowhere near kept pace with the escalation of the epidemic in New Zealand, fundraising from Red Ribbon Day and related AIDS Awareness Week activities was tremendously important for it to be able to continue to offer services.

The theme set by the UN AIDS Programme for World AIDS Day 2002 and 2003 is “Stigma and Discrimination – Live and Let Live” and Kevin Hague that this theme was very relevant to New Zealand:

“The HIV Futures New Zealand research project showed that many people living with HIV in New Zealand were still reluctant for others to know, because they feared ostracism and discrimination. Prejudice against people living with HIV/AIDS and against those most at risk is the enemy of civilization, and creates an environment where unnecessary risk is taken and which erodes people’s health.”

Kevin Hague applauded the New Zealand media for their coverage of the global pandemic but urged journalists to be guard against fostering assumptions that the New Zealand epidemic mirrors the international situation:

“In New Zealand we have mostly been successful in limiting the epidemic to gay and bisexual men. Even transmission amongst injecting drug users has almost been eliminated – a unique achievement in the world – while heterosexual transmission occurring in New Zealand remains at a low level.

We haven’t done as badly as other countries, but still the overall picture is continuing to worsen and will do for the foreseeable future.”

Below, a letter from the Prime Minister

1 December 2002

World AIDS Day 2002

To the end of June this year, 765 people in New Zealand had been notified with AIDS, and 1818 people had been found to be infected with HIV. The total number of adults and children living with HIV/AIDS in the world is now estimated to be over 40 million. AIDS has killed 20 million people since the epidemic began.

New Zealand has been fortunate in comparison with many countries, but, in the face of a disease as unforgiving as HIV/AIDS, complacency itself is intolerable.

The nature of the epidemic constantly evolves, and different communities become affected: heterosexual transmission, for example, is becoming more common in New Zealand now. New generations of New Zealanders are growing up and need to be informed and reminded about the painful past lessons we have learned. It is important for us to build on our considerable past achievements as well as learn from international experience as we move to meet the challenges of the future.

I would like to take this opportunity to acknowledge the pivotal role played by the New Zealand AIDS Foundation, community-based groups and people living with HIV/AIDS in promoting measures to combat HIV/AIDS.

Helen Clark Prime Minister

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