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HIV Rates At Record High On World Aids Day

MEDIA RELEASE: 24 NOVEMBER 2009
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE


HIV Rates At Record High On World Aids Day


With a record high of new HIV diagnoses in New Zealand last year the New Zealand AIDS Foundation (NZAF) will be letting people know that HIV is close to home this World AIDS Day. Figures from the AIDS Epidemiology Group at the University of Otago show that since the beginning of the HIV epidemic in New Zealand in the early 80s, more than 3,000 people have been diagnosed with HIV.

World AIDS Day is marked internationally each year on 1 December. On Friday 27 November hundreds of volunteers, members of HIV peer support groups and the staff of the NZAF will be on the streets and in the malls of Christchurch, Wellington and Auckland asking for donations in exchange for red ribbons. The red ribbon is the original ‘ribbon’ campaign. Created by New York artists in 1991 the red ribbon is an international symbol of solidarity with people living with HIV and AIDS. Its creators chose red for its ‘connection to blood and the idea of passion - not only anger, but love, like a valentine’. (Visual AIDS Artists Caucus, wwwthebody.com/visualaids/about.html)

The face of World AIDS Day 2009 is Rhys Jones, a 26 year old man from Auckland. Rhys says “I just had the idea that I was invincible, that I would never get it. But HIV is still very much around and close to home”. Rhys contracted HIV four years ago and is featured on all of the NZAF promotions for World AIDS Day. In the past year he has spoken about his experience living with HIV in articles, on TV, and on the NZAF website. Rhys describes HIV as “the hardest thing that’s ever happened to me.”

The proceeds of the NZAF World AIDS Day Street Appeal benefit the Wellness Fund; a fund that is earmarked exclusively to provide health-related expenses that are not subsidised for people living with HIV. Proceeds from other events like parties and art shows benefit targeted HIV prevention campaigns for the communities most at risk of HIV.
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