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NZAF welcomes QSM for its Research Director

31 December 2005

NZAF welcomes QSM for its Research Director

A Queens Service Medal in the New Year Honours List is a fitting recognition of a man whose dedication and work commitment has directly contributed to New Zealand having one of the lowest rates of HIV in its at-risk populations of any country in the world, the New Zealand AIDS Foundation said today.

NZAF Research Director Tony Hughes (Auckland) has been awarded the QSM for services to the community. He lobbied for and helped initiate the first Government-funded NZAF HIV/AIDS prevention campaign in November 1985 and has worked for the foundation for just over 20 years.

“On a recent visit to New Zealand,” said NZAF Executive Director Rachael Le Mesurier, “Dr Peter Piot, Executive Director of UNAIDS, applauded this country for maintaining an HIV prevalence among men-who-have-sex-with-men (MSM) at one of the lowest rates in the world. A large part of that success is attributable to Tony’s political strategising, policy guidance and an emphasis on research-based practice.”

Tony Hughes was also involved in lobbying for and supporting the establishment of other organisations in New Zealand that have helped this country achieve very low rates of HIV among other risk groups, most notably the national needle exchange system and the New Zealand Prostitutes Collective. As a result less than 1% of injecting drug users in New Zealand have contracted HIV, and HIV transmission among sex workers in New Zealand is one of the lowest in the developed world.

“This award also gives appropriate recognition to Tony for his advocacy work in the area of Human Rights law reform, which has gone hand-in-hand with creating the conditions to allow MSM, needle users and sex workers full access to information and services around the prevention of HIV and other health needs without the fear and stigma of criminalisation and discrimination. As such, this work, while enormously important in its own right as an issue of human rights for minority groups, has also directly contributed to the success of our HIV prevention campaigns.

“Tony’s strength was his ability to frame these issues in ways that the public could relate to and feel that they had a stake in, even though they were issues affecting, predominantly, minority groups,” Ms Le Mesurier said. “The result has been internationally acclaimed human rights and health promotion initiatives that have benefited all New Zealanders.”

ENDS

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