AIDS has been a reality for New Zealand for many years now. It is much better understood than in the first frightening years of its discovery.
However, we are still at war with an epidemic for which we are yet to develop a cure.
As our knowledge and understanding of AIDS grows, so does the toll this virus takes on human life, both in New Zealand and around the world.
Just last year, new diagnoses in NZ reached an all-time high. This is an avoidable tragedy not just for those New Zealanders who contracted the virus, but for their families and friends too.
That is why the work of the New Zealand AIDS Foundation is so important. We cannot ignore AIDS. On-going education is critical, as is support for those who deal with the every-day reality of AIDS.
Thank you to all who are here tonight. Your determination to stop this virus honours those who have lost their lives and their loved ones to AIDS.
Tena koutou katoa
Patron of the New Zealand Aids Foundation