30 November 2007
CDHB encourages Canterbury people to light a candle for World AIDS Day
Cantabrians can recognise this World AIDS Day by visiting the North Quadrangle of the Arts Centre from 12 noon to 1pm, Saturday 1 December.
Large red ribbons will be floated in the quadrangle pond and people can light a candle to show their support. Fifty six red helium balloons will be released, each representing fifty of the people diagnosed HIV positive in New Zealand so far... a total of 2,782 as at 30 June 2007.
Information and condom packs will be available and people will be encouraged to wear a red ribbon to show their support for people living with HIV/AIDS and towards stopping the spread of HIV.
Canterbury District Health Board is also reminding Cantabrians to ensure all sex is safe sex this Christmas, New Year party season.
The Sexual Health Centre’s Clinical Director Ed Coughlan said that using a condom gives good protection against Sexually Transmitted Infections (STIs).
“While overall, the majority of cases of HIV transmission in New Zealand has been men having sex with men, since the late ‘90s there has been a steady increase in heterosexual HIV infections,” said Dr Coughlan.
As well as protecting against HIV, Dr Coughlan says that through condom use people can protect themselves from other STIs such as gonorrhoea and chlamydia, which are more commonly transmitted.
“The numbers of people with gonorrhoea in Canterbury is definitely on the increase and so too is the rate of chlamydia infections,” he said.
Chlamydia can be easily treated with antibiotics – it is one of the most common sexually transmitted infections in the world. Many infected people have few symptoms and do not know that they are infected. If left untreated, it can cause serious health problems.
Once diagnosed, gonorrhoea can also be treated with antibiotics. If left untreated, in men it causes inflammation of the epididymis, prostate gland and urethral structure. In women, it can cause pelvic inflammatory disease, a serious infection of the female reproductive tract which can lead to increased risk of ectopic pregnancy.
Dr Coughlan said testing and treatment for both these STIs is easy and painless, but the best way is to avoid them through using a condom.
A ‘fast test’ for AIDS is now available which gives results in 20-60 minutes.
The New Zealand AIDS Foundation is warning that STIs such as syphilis, gonorrhoea and chlamydia, all of which are on the increase, make the body more vulnerable to HIV infection and vice versa.
“Over the Christmas and New Year break, we’re reminding all sexually active New Zealanders – gay, straight or in between – that the best presents come wrapped,” said Douglas Jenkin, National Campaigns Co-ordinator at the New Zealand AIDS Foundation.
That means condoms and water-based lube, no exceptions. Condoms stop the transmission of HIV and also offer protection against other STIs, he said.
(Event organised by the AIDS Liaison Group, which includes representatives from the New Zealand AIDS Foundation, Community and Public Health (a division of the Canterbury District Health Board), Hauora Matauraka, Christchurch Sexual Health Centre, Rodger Wright Centre, Hepatitis C Resource Centre, NZ Prostitutes Collective, Christchurch Methadone Programme, 198 Youth Health Centre, and FPA.)