Foundation’s new strategy resonates with NZAF Life Member, Michael Stevens

  • 📅25 June, 2017

I’m very pleased to see the New Zealand AIDS Foundation's new strategy being rolled out in New Zealand. Living in central Auckland I see the posters and signs around, and it’s great that we as an organisation can take such a public stand.

As the latest results coming out of the UK show, it is possible to bring the rate of new HIV infections down, and it’s realistic to talk about a time when HIV infection becomes rare. If we are given the full access to the tools we need, the funding, the access to early medication for those who are positive, and to PrEP for those people that need it, then it is truly possible to effectively end the epidemic in our lifetime.

That’s something that I never thought I’d be able to say. Personally, I’ve lived with HIV since the mid 80s, and seen so many friends and others get sick and die. I remember the bad old days vividly. I’ve seen the amazing advances that science has brought. I never expected to be alive this long. It really is remarkable to see where we are now compared to where we were in the 80s and 90s.

What I love about the new strategy and Ending HIV campaign is that it acknowledges how gay men live and love and have fun. It is realistic, and speaks to our community on multiple levels, without preaching or judging.

We are still the most at risk group in New Zealand, we are the group that must be effectively targeted to halt the epidemic.

But to do this we need more government funding. We need the committed and serious support from officials and others who work in the planning side of the health sector. We need them to share our excitement at the possibilities this strategy is raising. So it’s great to see the strategy and the associated campaign, but don’t forget to make some noise. Write to your MP, to the Minister of Health. Keep the pressure up so we can take full advantage of this incredible opportunity.

Michael Stevens, former Chair, Life Member of NZAF

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