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HIV/AIDS team to visit NZ this week

27 February 2006

HIV/AIDS team to visit NZ this week

A high-powered team of HIV/AIDS experts are visiting New Zealand next week, keen to talk to Members of Parliament, aid officials and World Vision staff about the growing HIV/AIDS global pandemic and its potential impact in the Pacific.

Headed by Ken Casey, leader of World Vision's global HIV/AIDS initiative, the team comprises Mark Lorey, Director of research and development for World Vision's global HIV/AIDS response, Martha Newsome, regional HIV and AIDS director for World Vision Africa, and Daniel Malleboyina, Regional Advisor HIV and AIDS for Asia Pacific.

Ken Casey says it is time to stop thinking of HIV/AIDS as a purely African disease: "The epicenter is shifting from Africa to Asia and the Pacific, and it's crucial we look at the learnings from Africa and apply them to the Pacific." To that end, he'll be urging MPs to re-direct more aid money towards the disease in the Pacific. Currently approximately 10% of New Zealand's foreign assistance budget is tagged for AIDS programmes, including $19m for the Pacific.

Mark Lorey, who was until recently based in Zambia, a country hugely affected by HIV/AIDS, says the crisis of orphans and vulnerable children in Africa is of historic proportions. "It could jeopardize the future of entire societies if the global community does not respond effectively. World Vision has a long track record with more than a decade of experience, and effective models for addressing this crisis."

The HIV/AIDS team believes New Zealand needs to do all it can to avert the kind of catastrophe in Asia and the Pacific that is currently seen in east and southern Africa.

"World Vision is strongly committed to effective HIV prevention, care and advocacy in lower prevalence contexts, including Asia/Pacific, and we're investing substantially in developing effective responses," says Mr Lorey.

ENDS

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