Article Title:Fear and concern over HIV figures
Category:New Zealand Daily News
Author or News Staff
Published on:27th February 2004 - 12:00 pm
Story ID:2229
Text:Yesterday's shock announcement that 93 men were diagnosed HIV+ in New Zealand last year – the worst figures in a decade – is already sending a ripple of fear and concern through the gay community. Michael Bancroft, former chairman of the Auckland Community AIDS Services and the AIDS Memorial Quilt, says he is saddened by the announcement. “As someone heavily involved in the care and support of HIV+ men and those living with AIDS in the late 80s/early 90s, and having conducted funerals for nearly 150 of them in my capacity as a Catholic priest, it saddens me to think that with the most recent figures, we seem to be in the horrific situation of going back to square one again,” he told Stuart Yeatman, owner of gay venue Menfriends in Christchurch, says we are now paying the price for people's apathy on the issue of safe sex. “We were aware that unsafe sex had resurfaced as an issue, because no safe sex messages are being presented in the mainstream media,” he said. “We've worked closely with the NZAF and presented a raft of different messages at Menfriends, which has had an impact on reducing unsafe sex here, but for a lot of men, the message has faded, they're over it, it hasn't struck anyone that they know, and the only place they hear about HIV/AIDS is when they come here.” Body Positive's Bruce Kilmister agrees, saying that more money needs to be pumped by the Ministry of Health into public education campaigns and media coverage to prevent “safe sex fatigue”. "That requires money. We are seeing a restricted budget in terms of a health campaign from the ministry. When was the last time you saw a general media campaign for HIV?” he told the NZ Herald. "Clearly there is a complacency out there now. A lot of people think it's not a life-threatening disease. They don't consider the consequences of a chronic illness and how debilitating that can be."    
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