The New Zealand AIDS Foundation’s Executive Director, Rachael Le Mesurier described the response to World AIDS Day 2008 as "wholehearted and generous. New Zealanders have continued to support people living with, and affected by HIV, as well as HIV prevention initiatives”.
This year, the faces of World AIDS Day 2008 were Beverley Hobman and Josh Chapman, the widow and son of a man who died of AIDS in 1994. Bev’s husband and Josh’s father Bryce was a gay man in the years before Homosexual Law Reform. Josh was eight years old when his father died and both he and Bev were motivated to raise awareness of the epidemic by the loss of their father and husband. Images of Bev and Josh wearing the red ribbons symbolic of AIDS were used on posters, flyers, in news articles and on internet video clips to promote awareness of HIV and the World AIDS Day Street Appeals.
World AIDS Day Street Appeals where volunteers collected donations in exchange for red ribbons were held in Auckland and Wellington and preliminary results suggest that each city raised between $16000 and $18000. Hundreds of volunteers were mobilised in each city and business partners including the Accor hotel group and all 26 stores of the Body Shop also helped raise funds and promote awareness of HIV with collections over a week long period.
Some of these appeals are continuing and final figures for the proceeds are not yet available.
In other areas of New Zealand such as Northland and Christchurch, community events were widely supported and well attended. Le Mesurier says “World AIDS Day raises funds and also awareness of the risks of acquiring HIV and the effects of stigma and discrimination. Internationally as well as locally, World AIDS Day reminds us that 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. Nobody should have to experience the side effects of medications, seriously affected life-style, and the stigma and discrimination that people living with HIV in NZ experience”.
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 still be made online at www.nzaf.org.nz/donate or by texting ‘AIDS’ in the body of a text message to the number 883 to make an instant donation of $3.00.