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More New Zealanders With HIV Than Ever

Contributor:
Fuseworks Media
Fuseworks Media
More New Zealanders With HIV Than Ever

World AIDS Day will be marked on December 1, to raise awareness of the continued presence of HIV and the impact of AIDS on communities in New Zealand and around the world.

In 2009, there were 151 new diagnoses of HIV in New Zealand - an average of three new diagnoses every week. Simon Harger-Forde, New Zealand AIDS Foundation (NZAF) Director HIV Prevention and Communication 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 3000 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. Harger-Forde says, "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."

The NZAF held its annual World AIDS Day appeal on Friday, 26 November in Auckland, Wellington and Christchurch. Donations were acknowledged with 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 it's "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.

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