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HIV groups unite in national Collective

Thu 13 May 2010 In: New Zealand Daily News View at Wayback View at NDHA

In what is being called a "momentous" move four of the country's HIV-positive people's peer support groups have formed an umbrella organisation to serve their common interests. The National Collective of People Living with HIV will provide "a collaborative voice around items of mutual interest and concern in regard to HIV advocacy and support" according to a statement released this evening. Body Positive Auckland, Wellington's Absolutely Positively Positive, Positive Women and INA ("for Maori, indigenous and Pacific people with HIV") have created the new organisation. The move is understood to have come after "two years of quiet work" and took final shape at a meeting on April 24th. “We have been keen for a long time to see this Collective underway," says Scott Johnston, Chair of Body Positive Auckland. "This will provide a more comprehensive response from people piving with HIV in New Zealand towards government and others." "It is something that has been missing from the HIV+ community for too long," says Ben Walter of Absolutely Positively Positive. "With such diverse groups being involved, important decisions and the ability to fight for HIV+ people should become much easier. Dreams are about to become reality…”  Jane Bruning of Positive Women describes the creation of the Collective as "a very momentous initiative, while Marama Pala, the Kaiwhakahaere/Executive Director for INA believes that "after 30 years of this epidemic, INA is pleased to see a national collective of people living with HIV working towards a common goal." But whilst the groups are primarily stressing their new-found unity of voice, GayNZ.com understands the Collective has already tendered through Positive Women to take over the running of the national Positive Speakers' Bureau from the NZ AIDS Foundation. "[We] felt there were items of national concern and interest that needed a collective and collaborative response and will be seeking meetings with the Ministry of Health and NZ AIDS Foundation to discuss these," says the Collective. The creation of the Collective comes as HIV service providers await the release of the HIV Services Review which is with the Ministry of Health in draft form and is expected to be made public soon. The Ministry intends using the report to guide spending priorities in HIV prevention and support and which organisations receive funding.    

Credit: GayNZ.com Daily News staff

First published: Thursday, 13th May 2010 - 11:08pm

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