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Prevention emphasis for AIDS Memorial

Mon 15 May 2006 In: New Zealand Daily News

With one New Zealander every two days learning they are HIV positive, this weekend's Candlelight Memorial is an opportunity to renew our commitment to safe sex, while remembering those who have passed on due to AIDS, says the New Zealand AIDS Foundation (NZAF). The International AIDS Candlelight Memorial will be held on Sunday 21 May with ceremonies scheduled in 4300 towns and cities in 93 countries. Candles will be lit to remember the more than 28 million people who have died of AIDS since the pandemic struck. It is estimated that 42 million people now live with HIV, including around 2700 in New Zealand. "There is a temptation," says Eamonn Smythe, National Manager of Positive Health for the NZAF, "for Kiwis to think of HIV and AIDS as 'someone else's problem, somewhere else.'" 2005 saw a marked increase in new HIV infections, with 183 people newly diagnosed. This illustrates the problem is very much a pressing domestic issue – one that cannot be ignored, says Smythe. The Foundation has decided to re-emphasise the importance of HIV awareness and prevention strategies, in line with this year's theme, Lighting the path to a brighter future. "Many of those who have died of AIDS-related illness in New Zealand were vigorous campaigners for HIV prevention. I think we dishonour the memory of those people if we don't use the time when we acknowledge their passing, to also try to prevent others from embarking on the same path. Let's honour their work by doing our utmost to ensure that this current rise in HIV is turned around," says Smythe. "This candlelight remember those who have gone before, but remember that you have the power to stop it happening to someone else you love or care for," Smythe says. "Practice safe sex; wear a condom, help stop the transmission of HIV here in New Zealand." Memorials will be held at the following locations around the country this coming Sunday: AUCKLAND – 6:30pm, St Matthew's in the City HAMILTON – 7pm, Houchen Retreat House, 83 Houchens Road TAURANGA – 7pm, Memorial Park WELLINGTON – 6:30pm, St Andrew's On The Terrace, 30 The Terrace CHRISTCHURCH – 7pm, The Great Hall, Arts Centre, cnr Worcester Boulevard   

Credit: GayNZ.com News Staff

First published: Monday, 15th May 2006 - 12:00pm

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