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Other NZAF funds not being raided for ads

Wed 22 Aug 2007 In: New Zealand Daily News

Concerns that the NZ AIDS Foundation is raiding budgets for other vital work, or even community donations, to fund the high cost of advertising safe sex on the NZ Dating website have been scotched by the Foundation. Replying to community concerns voiced in the Bulletin Board that the high cost of advertising its safe sex messages on NZ Dating is disadvantaging the Foundation's other work, which includes support for people with HIV, testing and counseling services, research and community outreaches, a spokesperson says any such concerns are unfounded. He says the Foundation is specifically budgeted for each of its functions by the Ministry of Health and no money is being re-directed from those activities to advertising. The cost of advertising on NZ Dating has been confirmed as $3,500 plus gst, per week of each campaign period. The NZAF is only two years into a three year funding period and is unable to access any increase in public health funds until July 2008. The Foundation is hopeful of negotiating a higher level of funding for future media promotion of safe sex awareness, but until then is trying to marshall existing advertising resources which have been strained by the continuing dramatic increase in new HIV infections contracted locally by men who have sex with men in New Zealand. Initial indications are that the rising popularity of the internet for arranging sexual encounters has a significant part to play in the soaring HIV infection rate. However, the NZAF has acknowledged that it has had to significantly cut back its advertising spend in the gay-specific media, including, express newspaper, Out Magazine and Jack. Concern about the lowering level of HIV promotion in the gay media has reached such a level that the NZAF is organising a meeting of most gay-media publishers to discuss the situation. Responding to an additional suggestion that money donated by community organisations and individuals to the NZAF is being 'poured into the coffers of NZ Dating,' the spokesperson says no donations are ever used for safe sex advertising. Donated money goes to non-Ministry of Health funded work, and "nine times out of ten that means its is put into the the Burnett Wellness Fund." The Wellness Fund is a financial resource of last resort to assist people with HIV or AIDS, predominantly gay men, who have fallen into financial strife. In the past a small proportion of donation money has been used by the NZAF for small one-off activities such as specific research or trial projects for which government funding has not been available.     Ref: (j)

Credit: News Staff

First published: Wednesday, 22nd August 2007 - 9:14pm

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