New Zealand Aids Foundation (NZAF) has promoted World AIDS Day (December 1) 2006 with a poster featuring four items of safety gear: earmuffs, a hard hat, a pair of safety goggles, and a condom.
World AIDS Day will be a wake-up call for New Zealanders to confront the reality of human behaviour, says the New Zealand AIDS Foundation. “This isn’t about ideology – it’s a scientific fact that condoms are the best preventative weapon we have in the fight against HIV,” says NZAF Executive Director Rachael Le Mesurier.
World AIDS Day this year also carries a message of personal responsibility. “With HIV rates in New Zealand at their highest-ever levels, this is a reminder for sexually active adults – particularly gay and bisexual men – that condoms are as important to their health and wellbeing as seatbelts are to car travel,” Le Mesurier continues. “There’s no cure for HIV, but it is easily preventable.”
2005 saw the highest number of new HIV diagnoses in the history of New Zealand’s epidemic, with 183 cases reported. Gay and bisexual men continue to be the most at-risk group, comprising the vast majority of new infections where transmission occurred within New Zealand. “However, heterosexuals cannot afford to disregard HIV as the shocking rates of chlamydia show that if HIV were to grab hold it would meet no resistance,” Le Mesurier adds.
A variety of fundraising events were being held around the country for World AIDS Day, including street collections in Auckland and Wellington. Proceeds from these collections will go towards the NZAF Wellness Fund, which provides direct individual care and support for all those living with HIV in New Zealand, irrespective of age, ethnicity, gender or sexual orientation.