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Maori and Polynesian men target of HIV education

Maori and Polynesian men target of HIV education


By Aidan Deam

Maori and Polynesian men are being targeted by a new website aimed to educate them about HIV and AIDS.

The NZAids Foundation has just launched a new social networking site called “bro online” that aims to connect young gay Maori and Polynesian men to each other while spreading the message about aids.

“We all need, crave social contact with people who are like us,” says Chris Banks, the NZAids communication coordinator.

Recently claims of exclusion and racism have been made against the site in gay newspaper Express.

Sam Lawrence said that by targeting a specific group in the community “bro online” is unfairly discriminating against other ethnicities and cultures.

However NZAids maintains that the site welcomes any and all who want to help contribute to the online community and take part in the message of AIDS prevention.

The site, launched last month, already has around 150 members and is similar to Bebo or Facebook. It is designed as a safe place to meet and interact for people who are already infected and those that need to learn about the dangers.

The website is championed by Hau Ora Takataapui, the Maori health promotion team within NZAF.

The site is partially funded by the Ministry of Health, NZAids Foundation and donations.

“The idea behind the bro online site is to create a social hub and something that’s culturally relevant as well,” says Chris Banks.

Since 1996, when HIV figures by ethnicity became available, there have been 43 reported cases of HIV in the Pacific population and 78 incidences amongst Maori.

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Aidan Deam is a Journalism Student at AUT

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