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Wellington HIV testing centre opens

February 29, 2008

Wellington HIV testing centre opens in new location

The Awhina Centre, a Wellington-based HIV testing and counselling facility run by the New Zealand AIDS Foundation, has shifted to new premises at Level 1, 187 Willis St.

The new, improved centre has been tailor-made to suit the needs of at-risk communities, providing free and confidential HIV testing and counselling in a friendly, relaxed environment. An open invitation is being issued for the new Awhina Centre’s official opening on Wednesday March 12, from 5pm to 7pm.

“Our name Awhina means to help, support and embrace in Maori,” says Regional Manager Camille Smith. “With one gay or bisexual man being diagnosed with HIV every five days, there is an increasing need for our services among this community and others affected by HIV and AIDS.”

The Awhina Centre late last year introduced the revolutionary rapid HIV testing system FASTEST, which provides a result in just 20 minutes. “We are the only service in Wellington offering this test, elsewhere you’ll have to wait anywhere up to eight days to get the result back from a laboratory - requiring two appointments and a lot of anxiety,” Smith says. “If you come to Awhina, you get a single appointment and a result you can go home with.”

The Awhina Centre also provides a base for the Foundation’s health promotion teams working to prevent HIV transmission among gay and bisexual men and African communities, as well as OUT THERE!, a joint queer youth development project between the New Zealand AIDS Foundation and Rainbow Youth.

Wine and nibbles will be provided at the Awhina Centre opening function, and there will be a speech from Beate Lutz, an HIV positive woman who is currently helping to front a major destigmatisation campaign for Positive Women Inc, an independent peer support network for women and families in New Zealand living with HIV or AIDS.

“Beate’s story of living with HIV is an amazing illustration of the prejudice that HIV positive people still face,” Smith says. “Our testing and counselling services are here for all New Zealanders affected by HIV, irrespective of age, race, gender or sexual orientation.”

Level 1, 187 Willis St, Wellington


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