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National hui to address HIV stigma faced by Māori

Fri 25 Mar 2016 In: New Zealand Daily News View at Wayback View at NDHA

A national hui aim to address the stigma and discrimination often faced by Māori living with, or affected by, HIV. He Kai Ata Rau is a national hui aiming to find ways to end HIV stigma and discrimination and will be held in Hamilton this July. He Kai Ata Rau spokesperson, Tawhanga Kereopa, says that many Māori who are HIV-positive or at risk of HIV feel they are treated as second-class citizens. “We have reports of instances where our Māori who are HIV-positive are physically or verbally abused as a result of their status, and this can also extend to their whānau who are stigmatised as well.” Highlighting that the fear and ignorance leaves Māori to lose their dignity and feel marginalised, the organisers say this stigma can prevent people from getting testing, getting treatment and opening up to friends and family. “Stigma is a major reason why there are new HIV infections in New Zealand”, says Kereopa. “Stigma and discrimination can also come from within Māori communities”, he says. “We need to recognise that stigmatising and discriminating against Māori because they live with HIV or are at risk of HIV is not part of tikanga Māori and contradicts Māori values.” The hui is organised by a collaboration of HIV-prevention organisations throughout Aotearoa who recognise the need to address stigma and discrimination to improve the lives of those living with or affected by HIV: He Kai Ata Rau will use Māori strengths-based approaches that draw upon the innate, positive, life-affirming qualities of Mātauranga Māori (Māori knowledge and values) so these can be reflected back to Māori communities. “He Kai Ata Rau is a must-attend event for anyone working in a government agency, health service, education, or if you are a community advocate, and want to share and learn Māori strategies and resources to end HIV stigma and discrimination.”    

Credit: Daily News staff

First published: Friday, 25th March 2016 - 1:36pm

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