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HIV prevention for Maori transsexuals

Wed 1 Jun 2005 In: New Zealand Daily News

A new HIV prevention programme aimed specifically at Maori transsexuals (whakawahine) is believed to be a first for New Zealand. The AIDS Foundation will launch the programme, entitled "Ko Ia – he or she", in Wellington this Friday. It helps to fulfill one of the Foundation's wider goals in HIV prevention, the creation of supportive environments and communities. Participants at the launch will include such well-known transgender personalities as former Wellington nightclub owner and entertainer Carmen Rupe, and Mama Tere, who runs Te Aronga Hou Inaianei, a health and support programme for street people in South Auckland. A production of Hau Ora Takatapui, the Foundation's Maori HIV prevention programme, "Ko Ia – he or she" uses the inspiring life survival stories of prominent transsexuals such as Carmen and MP Georgina Beyer to inspire others to make healthy choices. "The resource also helps people understand that transgender are not sick, abnormal or outsiders," says Te Herekiekie Herewini, the Foundation's National Health Promotion Manager. "They are a part of the human spectrum and have much to contribute to their whanau and communities when they are given the opportunities to do so." Herewini says that while HIV statistics for whakawahine and other male to female transgender are not separated out of national statistics for HIV among men-who-have-sex-with-men, there is strong anecdotal evidence that a lack of whanau and community support for transgendered people has contributed to their being over-represented in self harm behaviours.    

Credit: News Staff

First published: Wednesday, 1st June 2005 - 12:00pm

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