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Zimbabwe decision a positive humanitarian move

PRESS RELEASE: August 30, 2006

Zimbabwe decision a positive humanitarian move

The government’s decision to grant residency to Zimbabweans in New Zealand who fled the brutal Mugabe regime is a positive humanitarian move, as well as working in the best interests of public health, says the New Zealand AIDS Foundation.

“The HIV epidemic worldwide is fuelled by silence, stigma and discrimination,” says NZAF Executive Director Rachael Le Mesurier. “Granting residency to the minority of Zimbabweans now in New Zealand who may be HIV-positive is the best way to ensure those affected receive the treatment, care and support they need – something they sadly would not have received under the oppressive Mugabe regime.”

The African community in New Zealand has been leading HIV prevention efforts amongst new migrants from high-prevalence countries for several years, and since 2005 has been working directly in partnership with the New Zealand AIDS Foundation to consolidate these efforts.

“Building strong communities is essential to stopping the spread of HIV, as well as supporting those living with the virus,” Le Mesurier says. “Our twenty years of experience with the HIV epidemic amongst gay men in New Zealand has shown us that community-led initiatives work best in resolving this.”

These community partnerships supported by successive governments since 1985 have helped keep New Zealand a low-prevalence country for HIV amongst the general population, Le Mesurier says.

“We believe New Zealanders will act with compassion and humanity to ensure the discrimination and stigma occurring in other parts of the world toward minority groups do not take hold here. This is all we’re asking of the wider community, in order to ensure that our country’s most at-risk groups for HIV can continue prevention efforts in a supportive, humanitarian environment.”

ENDS

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