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Safety gear theme of World AIDS Day

24 November 2006

Safety gear theme of World AIDS Day

World Aids Day is on Friday 1 December 2006. This is an international annual event to mark the issue of HIV and AIDS. The theme this year is safety gear, and promotes the use of condoms and safe sex practices.

This year some Tauranga Hospital staff are getting behind the cause and are running one of the street appeals.

Registered Social Worker Susan Kennedy says that it is encouraging to see people’s willingness and dedication to the cause.

“This is a good example of how discussing issues such as HIV/AIDS can have a ripple effect in the community and lines of communication and understanding are opened, and expand to wider circles.”

“It is exciting to see people giving of their time and making an effort to get the message of safe sex out there in the attempt to combat HIV/AIDS. The possibility is there for all members of the community to learn more about HIV/AIDS, to gain a better understanding and to ensure the use of condoms. HIV/AIDS is not going away and is a real issue, which may affect any one of us,” says Susan.

Susan says that everyone can play a role in working for change in regards to HIV/AIDS. This can be demonstrated by learning more about HIV/AIDS through education, raising awareness and the promotion of condom usage to ensure safe sex.

“These changes can be undertaken through self-learning, through discussing these issues within your family/whanau, actively getting involved within the community or lobbying for change at a political level.”

“It is through such changes that greater learning and understanding takes place and it is through these processes that discrimination breaks down.”

For further information visit the New Zealand Aids Foundation website on www.nzaf.org.nz

What is HIV and AIDS?
HIV (Human Immunodeficiency Virus) is a virus, which attacks the immune system. Special cells in the immune system called T cells, rush to attack viruses to stop us becoming unwell. HIV grows inside the T cells and after a while kills the T cells and escapes into the bloodstream looking for more T cells to infect. When someone becomes infected with HIV it is called being HIV positive (HIV +). Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome (AIDS) occurs when most of the T cells are killed, the immune system does not work properly and is unable to fight off diseases. This is when people with HIV can become very sick and this illness is called AIDS.

The year 2005 was the worst year on record for HIV in New Zealand, with 183 new diagnosed cases – the highest ever number in a single year. The most at-risk group remains gay and bisexual men, who make up the largest proportion of new diagnoses where infection occurred within New Zealand (www.nzaf.org.nz)

BAASS – Bay Area AIDS Support Service
BAASS is made up of voluntary members, mainly family members whom have had a family member pass away from an AIDS related illness, and interested parties, whom continue to come together each year in support of the local community, in raising awareness of HIV/AIDS, promoting safe sex practices and in raising money for those persons experiencing HIV or AIDS locally. It is through their dedication and commitment that this continues to happen year after year.

To promote World AIDS Day BAASS organised a number of local events, including Red Ribbon street appeals and a condom drop.

WORLD AIDS DAY – FRIDAY 1 DECEMBER 2006

The following events are taking place:
- World Aids Day Street Appeal outside the New Zealand Post Shop in Te Puke from 10am-4pm.
- World Aids Day Street Appeal outside the Warehouse on Cameron Road from 10am-4pm.
- The Tauranga Hospital Foyer Appeal at the front entrance of the Tauranga Hospital.
- The Condom Drop on the Friday evening 1 December 2006.

Red ribbons will be available at the street appeals in Te Puke and Tauranga and at the Tauranga Hospital.

Susan says that wearing a red ribbon is a tribute to the millions of people living with or affected by HIV and AIDS worldwide, and to the teams of researchers trying to find a vaccine or cure.

“Anyone can wear a red ribbon, you don’t have to be gay or HIV positive or living with AIDS, to demonstrate you have an awareness and understanding of issues surrounding HIV and AIDS.”

Part of BAASS role is supporting people/family/whanau within the community whom experience HIV/AIDS and also linking them into appropriate services. This may be done by way of self-referral, a GP referral or via Bay Area AIDS Support Services Registered Social Worker Susan Kennedy at Tauranga Hospital, phone 07 579 8344.


Nursing students get involved
A recent action research study was carried out by a team of second year Waiariki Nursing Tauira, their project was to design a community health package, with a HIV and AIDS component as part of their project. The promotion of their work was targeted to the people who enjoyed the nightlife in the Tauranga Moana rohe.

The task of the team was how to get the message out to the public of Tauranga. Five professional posters were designed and on each poster five free condoms were placed. Permission was sought to hang these poster in the toilets of several bars around town. A condom drop and a information display board was set up, the message from this research is ‘Remember there is no cure for HIV/AIDS’. ‘What’s worse a bit of embarrassment or a whole lot of infection, pain and serious ill health? There is help HIV/AIDS Hotline 0800 802437’.

ENDS

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