'The theme of World AIDS Day this year is leadership" said Mrs Turia. "Leadership can be demonstrated at all levels, from whanau, to community, to governmental to global".
"I am particularly keen to see leadership exhibited in making sure we cater for all our populations, all our communities, in our efforts to control HIV and other sexually transmitted infections" said Mrs Turia.
"Last year I was disturbed to learn that the HIV diagnosis amongst Maori had rocketed up from 6.4% of all notifications in 2006, to 11.4% in the first six months of 2007" said Mrs Turia. "So it is pleasing to learn that the NZ AIDS Foundation has recently appointed Jordon Harris as their Kaiarahi; and that the Foundation is developing a strategy to improve its responsiveness to Maori".
"This is a good time also to acknowledge Marama Pala, New Zealand’s representative on the International Indigenous Secretariat on HIV" said Mrs Turia. "Having Marama at the table of such an important forum, will provide us with a unique opportunity to learn from other indigenous peoples around the globe, about how best to address HIV in Aotearoa".
"This year marks the 20th anniversary of World AIDS Day on 1 December" said Mrs Turia. "For many of us it is a time of great sadness as we think of friends no longer with us, who have been lost to AIDS".
"We think too, of all of those cause champions like Sister Paula Brett-Kelly who dedicated so much of their lives to halt the spread of AIDS".
"The slogan for 2008 is ‘Stop AIDS. Keep the promise" said Mrs Turia. "Internationally, we know that around half of all people who become infected with HIV do so before they are 25".
"Our promise then, must also be to the children, and to the young adults, that we continue to raise awareness, challenge prejudice and discrimination, and markedly improve our education, including kaupapa Maori education, on the importance of living and staying well"