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AIDS Candlelight Memorial Sunday 21 May

16th May 2006

Lighting a path to a brighter future – AIDS Candlelight Memorial Sunday 21 May

SH4U, the Western Bay Sexual Health Coalition, is 100% behind the Bay Area AIDS Support Service (BAASS) and New Zealand Aids Foundation in highlighting the importance of remembering those who have died from AIDS.

The AIDS International Candlelight Memorial is 7pm, Sunday 21st May, at the Fountain at Memorial Park, Tauranga. The event is one of seven being held throughout New Zealand on the same night.

“The event is for families who have had a family member die of AIDS or families currently experiencing this, to come together in support and remembrance of their lives,” says BAASS spokesperson Susan Kennedy. “People in New Zealand are still contracting HIV and dying needlessly of AIDS.”

Last year 183 people were diagnosed with HIV through antibody testing in New Zealand, 26 more than in 2004 – a 17% rise.

- 89 were men who had had sex with men, 14 more than in 2004 – a 19% rise.
- 73 were heterosexually infected (35 men, 38 women) - a similar number to 2004.
- Six were infants diagnosed with HIV, acquired through mother to child transmission. Four were born in New Zealand to women whose HIV was not diagnosed before they gave birth.
(AIDS - New Zealand, Issue 57 – February 2006, ISSN 1170-2656. www.moh.govt.nz)

Susan Kennedy says anyone can attend the Candlelight Memorial.

“Each person will receive a candle to light and be invited to write names of people who died of AIDS on the concrete in chalk,” she says.

The quartet from Harmony a Plenty will be singing three hymns at the event, speeches written by the Governor General and Prime Minister will be read out and a member of BAASS will read a verse.

“We are highlighting the importance of raising awareness around HIV and AIDS, making people aware that is it still out there and not going away,” she says.

NOTE: Speeches will be emailed out tomorrow, Wednesday 17th May 2006.

SH4U (Sexual Health For You) is made up of representatives from Family Planning Association (FPA), Toi Te Ora Public Health, Family Education Network, New Zealand Prostitutes Collective, Tu Pou Tahi, Public Health Nurses, Sexual Health Clinic, Tauranga Help and student health coordinators.

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