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World AIDS Day: fighting complacency

Wed 1 Dec 2010 In: HIV View at Wayback View at NDHA

Today is World AIDS Day and you can help out by wearing a red ribbon or make a donation to the World AIDS Day appeal. Street collections across the country on Friday have raised a preliminary total of around $28,000, with a number of buckets still to be handed in and a further collection taking place in the South Island this coming Friday. The funds raised will go towards preventing HIV transmission and supporting people affected by HIV and AIDS. New Zealand AIDS Foundation spokeswoman Dawn O'Connor says the focus has moved from collections last week to getting HIV/AIDS in the spotlight this week – and many mainstream media outlets are running articles today highlighting continued presence of HIV and the impact of AIDS on communities in New Zealand - and warning against complacency settling in. In 2009, there were 151 new diagnoses of HIV in New Zealand - an average of three new diagnoses every week. Outgoing NZAF Executive Director Rachael Le Mesurier, who is being farewelled from the role she has held for seven years today, says there is a perception that things are ok now. But the reality is there are now more people living with HIV than ever before. Since the epidemic reached New Zealand in the mid-1980s, more than 3,000 people have been diagnosed with HIV, and a recent report from the Ministry of Health estimated that there are between 1500 and 2000 people living with HIV in New Zealand at present. "The fiscal cost of around 150 people every year who will all need antiretroviral treatment at some point is very high, the cost in lost productivity from people who are unwell is also great but the true price is the social cost of HIV, in lives cut short and lives significantly affected," Le Mesurier says. The NZAF is asking people to show their support by wearing a red ribbon, the powerful symbol of World AIDS Day. The red ribbon is an international symbol of the fight against AIDS. It was created in 1991 by New York-based artists who wanted to express compassion for people living with HIV and their caregivers. They said they chose red for its "connection to blood and the idea of passion - not only anger, but love, like a valentine." In 2005, the NZAF was part of the creation of a unique New Zealand red ribbon which this year appears on World AIDS Day buttons. Associate Health Minister Tariana Turia says HIV and Aids can affect anyone at anytime and it is important to remember that this disease knows no social, ethnic or economic barriers. She points to the HIV Services Review, which found stigma remains a major issue for those with HIV/AIDS. "We need to support people living with HIV and AIDS by encouraging them to talk about the challenges they are facing so that they can access the full range of treatment options available. Anti-retroviral therapies are helping people to stay well for many years. "It is important that we talk openly about HIV and AIDS because preventing transmission is the best protection and people need to know how to protect themselves." Cricketers support World AIDS Day The Black Caps and Indian team will wear red ribbons in the second ODI against in Jaipur tonight, as part of an International Cricket Council initiative in support of World AIDS Day. The ICC says it wants to raise awareness about prevention against AIDS and to eliminate the stigma and discrimination. Cricketers playing in ODIS between Bangladesh and Zimbabwe and Sri Lanka and West Indies and the opening Ashes Test match between England and Australia will also be wearing the red ribbons on their uniforms. The 2011 ICC Cricket World Cup will see players wearing red ribbons during the quarter-final, semi-final and the final matches of the trophy. Celebs A number of celebrities are "digitally dead" today for World AIDS Day, signing off from all social networking platforms in solidarity with those in Africa and India affected by HIV and AIDS. They are: Alicia Keys, Lady Gaga, Kim Kardashian, Ryan Seacrest, Justin Timberlake, P. Diddy, Usher, Jennifer Hudson, Khloe Kardashian, Jay Sean, Swizz Beatz, Serena Williams, The Buried Life, Elijah Wood, Janelle Monae, Kimberly Cole, David LaChapelle, Daphne Guinness and Bronson Pelletier. Bono, fresh from a visit to Auckland with U2, has spoken out at a World AIDS Day launch at Sydney's Opera House, saying financial tough times in developed economies are undercutting efforts to stop the global spread of AIDS. "Times are hard in the Western world," he said. Bono said agencies established to arrest AIDS "were fighting hard for funding" nearly three decades after the disease was first diagnosed. "In recessionary times, people have to tell their politicians this is important to them," Bono said. An estimated 33.3 million people worldwide had HIV in 2009, according to the latest figures issued by UNAIDS. There were 26.2 million in 1999. "Some people think that the pandemic is on its way out and its job done," Bono said. "It is really not so." Events Events which have already been held are the NZAF AGM and Life Membership awards, The Cartier Trust Masquerade Ball, The Get It On Red Party at Shine in Hamilton and I See Red! I See Red! I See Red! at Family Bar. The Gay Auckland Business Association will be collecting for World AIDS Day at its Christmas function at Kamo on K' Rd tonight, where it will also announce its scholarship recipients. The event begins at 6pm and entry is $10 for non-members. The YWCA in Hamilton has organised a World AIDS Day Workshop. It will include games and male and female condom demonstrations. Drinks and nibbles will be provided from 5pm onwards, the workshop starts at 5.30pm. Please RSVP to Abby de Lisle at The YWCA has also put a World AIDS Day banner over Victoria St. There will be a World AIDS Day Fundraiser at Club Q in Palmerston North oN Saturday from 8pm till midnight. "Come dressed as your favourite protector! Batman, Wonder Woman, Superman and Catwoman all welcome." You can donate to the World AIDS Day fund here Jacqui Stanford - 1st December 2010

Credit: Jacqui Stanford

First published: Wednesday, 1st December 2010 - 1:03pm

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