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No need to be a six-foot-tall drag queen to tackle HIV stigma this Red Friday

Contributor:
Fuseworks Media
Fuseworks Media

Everyone’s been at an office drinks, a family gathering or a house party, when somebody leans over and says something discriminatory, expecting you to laugh along with them.

Now, imagine a six-foot drag queen tackling that person to the ground before they get the chance to make their harmful "joke".

No one needs to be a drag queen - or six feet tall - to tackle HIV stigma. Everyone can channel some of that "big drag energy" into speaking out against stigma and ignorance. This is why the New Zealand AIDS Foundation (NZAF) has teamed up with drag superstar Medulla Oblongata to tackle HIV stigma in a new video highlighting the importance of knowing the facts about HIV and encouraging Kiwis to show their support.

HIV stigma is spread in many ways, from misconceptions about HIV and discriminatory attitudes, to the "harmless" AIDS-joke.

The harm caused by HIV stigma is something that many people aren’t aware of, but ignorance isn’t bliss. HIV stigma can be a barrier to mental health, social wellbeing, self-esteem and even access to healthcare. Staying in the dark about stigma hurts those living with and affected by HIV.

So, please welcome to the stage - Red Friday! Red Friday is an opportunity for Kiwis to tackle HIV stigma by getting clued up on what it really means to live with HIV in 2019 and by calling out misconceptions that enable stigma to spread

NZAF is challenging Kiwis to take a step toward ending HIV stigma in Aotearoa by hosting a Red Friday event to raise money and awareness this November 29th.

"Hosting a Red Friday event not only raises money to support people living with HIV - it shows you are taking a stand against stigma and discrimination," says NZAF Chief Executive Dr Jason Myers.

"In 2019, HIV stigma is often more harmful than the virus itself. A display of solidarity like taking part in Red Friday could mean a huge amount to someone in your whānau, workplace or community who is living with HIV and fears discrimination or being treated like a hazard - when they are unequivocally not a risk."

Key information:

o Red Friday is happening November 29th and is an opportunity to raise money and awareness to support those living with and affected by HIV. Head to www.NZAF.org.nz/RedFriday to find out more and take part

- Getting involved at your workplace? Host a red morning tea - think red velvet cakes and red icing - and ask your colleagues to bring along $5 or $10 for all the treats they can eat

- Want to show your support in your own home? Host a red-themed party, put up some red bunting, dress in your best red finery and accessories and have a great time. Ask for a donation on the door and paint the town red together

- Your sports team wants to get involved? Do a sponsored run and sprint until you’re red in the face, or hold a Red Friday match and gather a koha from your supporters and have the losing side show their support with a donation

o Why do we need Kiwis to bring their understanding of HIV out of the 80s?

- 46% of Kiwis wouldn’t let a child they know play with another child living with HIV

- 42% of Kiwis would be uncomfortable eating food prepared by someone living with HIV

- 88% of Kiwis wouldn’t be comfortable having a sexual relationship with someone living with HIV

- HIV is not transmitted by sharing or preparing food, sharing a living space, playing together, kissing or - if someone living with HIV is on effective treatment - condomless sex.

- No one "deserves" HIV and the "serves you right" attitude a lot of Kiwis hold on to is harmful and outdated. HIV does not discriminate and likely affects someone close to you

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