The latest figures released by the AIDS Epidemiology Group at the University of Otago show that nearly 3000 people have been diagnosed with HIV in New Zealand since the epidemic began. "HIV profoundly affects many people in New Zealand communities" says Rachael Le Mesurier, NZAF Executive Director. "Positive people report experiencing stigma and discrimination in their workplaces, and when they access accommodation, insurance, health and support services."
On Friday 28 November NZAF volunteers, staff and supporters in Auckland and Wellington will be collecting donations in exchange for red ribbons - the international symbol of solidarity with people living with HIV and AIDS during the World AIDS Day Street Appeal. The World AIDS Day Street Appeal will launch a series of events around New Zealand that aim to raise awareness of the risks of acquiring HIV and the effects of stigma and discrimination.
"Despite AIDS being present in our communities for more than 20 years there is still no vaccine or cure on the horizon" says Le Mesurier. "The only way to stop the HIV epidemic is to stop transmitting HIV. Condoms and water-based lube are still by far the best way to prevent transmission of this dangerous virus. The side effects of medications, seriously affected lifestyle, and an immense amount of misinformation and prejudice about HIV are realities that people living with HIV face every day in New Zealand".
The donations raised by the NZAF on World AIDS Day support HIV prevention and the NZAF Wellness Fund which provides direct financial assistance for health related costs, for people living with HIV to access support when alternative sources of funding are not available. Donations can be made online at www.nzaf.org.nz/donate or by texting ĎAIDSí to 883 to make an instant donation of $3.00. Donation opportunities, information and red ribbons will be available at Sofitel, M Gallery, Novotel, Mercure, Ibis, All Seasons and Formule 1 hotels as well, and World AIDS Day buttons will also be available at all 26 branches of The Body Shop nationwide.