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Scoop Images: NZ marks World AIDS Day

Local events marking World AIDS Day Friday have been the largest and most widespread so far, and should raise twice as much money as in 1999 according to New Zealand Aids Foundation spokesman Johnathan Smith.

"It's been nationwide, with events as far north as Kaitaia, and as far south as Dunedin. This is the first time that there's been a concentrated effort to actually get into the smaller towns as well as the main centres, so hopefully the events should raise double what we did last year," said Mr Smith, speaking at a fund-raising event in the Auckland suburb of Newmarket.

Captured during a gay moment while collecting for World Aids Day on Broadway Newmarket - Julie White TV2 Newsreader (centre) with (left-to-right) Buckwheat, Sefina, Miss Hissy Fit and Dot Com. PHOTOS FROM DIGIPRO

The event saw numerous celebrities, including TV One's Alison Mau, -ably assisted by some of Auckland's drag queens- giving free makeovers to members of the public.

The event featured products from the MAC makeup company, who donate the total profits from their 'Viva Glam' lipsticks to the New Zealand AIDS Foundation. Earlier in 2000 MAC presented the AIDS Foundation a cheque for $25,000 from sales of their lipsticks from the Newmarket Smith and Caughey's store alone, a donation the firm repeats worldwide.

TVNZ presenter Alison Mau has been involved with AIDS Foundation events since she arrived in the country in 1993. "I don't think enough emphasis is put on it in the general media, since it's not perceived as as much of a problem as it is in some places. We're not Africa and we're not America, but the statistics today show that something like 700 people live with HIV in New Zealand. And that is significant, because it is more than some diseases that are regarded as epidemics," said Ms Mau.

Jonathan Smith from the New Zealand AIDS Foundation receives a little added foundation of a different kind from Alison Mau during the Charity Makeover at Smith & Caugheys' Broadway Store. PHOTOS FROM DIGIPRO

569 New Zealanders have died of HIV / AIDS.

Other events marking World AIDS Day include an auction of over 50 pieces by legendary New Zealand conceptual artist Billy Apple, at Auckland's Chiaroscuro gallery tonight, and numerous collection drives throughout the country.

The Aids Foundation has focused on raising awareness of HIV / AIDS outside of New Zealand's big cities because the disease affects people in rural communities just as much as those in urban centres, said Mr Smith.

"We need to get the message out there in all communities, both small and large."

The prime World AIDS Day theme has been 'men make a difference', said Mr Smith.

"The World Health Organisation set the theme each year, and the way we have interpreted it locally is that men are still the ones who are primarily infecting. Therefore men need to take the responsibility, more than women."

Mr Smith said that the World Health Organisation's message was equally true in both homosexual and heterosexual contexts. "This is not just a gay disease, although that's how it is protrayed, that it just affects men who have sex with men. It's actually being spread throughout the heterosexual community, not so much in New Zealand, but definitely in other continents," said Mr Smith.


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