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NZ AIDS Foundation honours 20 years

05 September 2005

NZ AIDS Foundation honours 20 years

Twenty years of working to educate New Zealanders about HIV, supporting people affected by HIV/AIDS, and advocating on sexual health and human rights issues will be honoured by the New Zealand AIDS Foundation at its 20th Anniversary Gala Ball on 28 October.

The New Zealand AIDS Foundation originated as a voluntary community effort by gay men to help educate their own community about a new disease and support associated human rights initiatives. It rapidly grew into a professional organisation using paid staff and volunteers to deliver services in the area of HIV prevention education for men-who-have-sex-with-men (MSM) and takatâpui tane, as well as HIV counselling and support to people of all ethnicities, genders and sexualities. The Foundation has also continued its commitment to human rights advocacy, information provision and research aimed at reducing the spread of HIV.

Since the Foundation was establishment in 1985 (formed from the AIDS Support Network) its resources and prevention campaigns have won international awards, and its leadership in HIV support, prevention and human rights issues (for MSM in particular) has been recognised by such international organisations as UNAIDS. “The fact that New Zealand has one of the lowest incidences of HIV per head of population of any similar country in the world,” said NZAF Executive Director Rachael Le Mesurier, “is a testament to the initiative and dedication of those men and women who gave us our beginning and established the protocol of a community-based and led health promotion service that has stood the test of time and has led to the Foundation being recognised as a leader in health promotion in New Zealand.

“While we now deeply concerned at the “second wave” surge in HIV in New Zealand amongst MSM, the gala dinner will be a chance to recognise and honour the huge contribution to the health and well-being of New Zealand made by the Foundation and the many individuals and communities who support it.

“It will also be a suitable time for a rally call to look to the next 20 years. To challenge ourselves about the recent rise in HIV numbers and look at ways of meeting, even more effectively, the new challenges ahead.”

A night of spectacular entertainment is planned for the Gala Ball, including drag, opera, Maori and Pacific performance, along with a Gala Banquet featuring the finest of New Zealand food and wine.

The “black tie” gala celebration in the Great Hall of the Auckland Town Hall will include many invited guests from the 20-year history of the Foundation in New Zealand, but it is also open to public ticket sales as a major fund raising opportunity for the Foundation to support the work it does that is not covered by Government contracts.

Tickets (at $185 per head) will be available from the NZAF via email: gala@nzaf.org.nz or by contacting an AIDS Foundation centre in Auckland, Hamilton, Wellington or Christchurch.

ENDS

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