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NZ assisting Pacific HIV/AIDS fight

1 June 2004

NZ assisting Pacific HIV/AIDS fight

Aid Minister Marian Hobbs has today reaffirmed New Zealand’s commitment to fighting HIV/AIDS in the Pacific.

"This is our neighborhood and New Zealand is working actively with our Pacific partners to address the challenges HIV/AIDS brings. We need to ensure that HIV/AIDS does not cast a shadow over the future of the Pacific region," Marian Hobbs said.

"When dealing with HIV/AIDS it is imperative that we act quickly. As we have seen in Africa, inaction can have terrible consequences. In the Pacific, we see a 10-year window to halt and reverse the spread of the virus.

"Through NZAID, our international aid and development agency, we are spending approximately $26.2 million a year on HIV/AIDS related activities. Following the significant increase in aid spending announced in the recent budget, this is likely to increase over the coming years.

"To bring the best solutions, it is important that we work with the Pacific rather than impose our own judgments. The cornerstone of our support is to help implement the Pacific’s own regional strategy on HIV/AIDS. Funding of this initiative is currently being finalized but is likely to be substantial.

"Children are often the most vulnerable members of communities and there is no reason why Pacific children should suffer due to HIV/AIDS – this is one of the focuses for New Zealand’s HIV/AIDS work.

"We recently provided $2 million to United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) to help prevent HIV/AIDS affecting children in the Pacific. This programme involves initiatives preventing the transmission of HIV/AIDS from mothers to children and teaching life skills to adolescents.

"We are also supporting the Pacific Islands AIDS foundation (PIAF) to improve the quality of life for people living with HIV/AIDS and their families, and preventing the further spread of the disease in the Pacific. PIAF is the only NGO focused solely on HIV/AIDS in the Pacific Islands – NZAID is providing PIAF with $730,000 over three years

"In Fiji, NZAID contributes $175,000 annually to a unique project that distributes safe sex information and condoms quietly and discreetly through the mail system. Allowing people to access these resources confidentially is important and the approach has proved a great success - since the service was established 8500 requests for information have been actioned and more than 200,000 condoms distributed.

"I think these initiatives and the many others we have planned reiterate that New Zealand is standing beside Pacific countries, such as Papua New Guinea, and the region as a whole, in the fight against HIV/AIDS," said Marian Hobbs.

ENDS

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