Tuesday 24 February 2015
Executive Director Shaun Robinson reflects on NZAF's 30th anniversary as a time to celebrate a marathon effort to lead the world in HIV prevention, while aiming for greater success.
"This year marks 30 years of the NZAF’s work. I have been privileged to play only a small part in this journey; some of you have been around from the beginning when the gay community responded to the AIDS crisis. We pass the baton between us in what is a marathon, not a sprint.
"Together we’ve seen many milestones: palliative care, the revelation of condom based prevention (the real life saver), law reform, human rights, the Hui Takatāpui movement and Pride. We've had breakthroughs in medication so that HIV is no longer a death sentence, the Love Life Fono, rapid testing and counselling in the community, the Big Gay Out and Love Your Condom ads all over the place. It’s been creative and emotional.
"The epidemic has fluctuated and now levelled off. As a country we are one of the leaders in the management of HIV. Of the 39 million who have died world-wide, less than 800 have been Kiwis and our prevalence is less than half that of Australia. This is the sum total of thousands of people’s efforts; thank you — we should celebrate.
"But it's not enough. To eradicate HIV we need to use all we have learned in 30 years, add the new tools available today and strive for even greater success. We need more testing, no barriers to treatment, targeted use of PrEP and education of the ethnically diverse 5,000 gay men who hit puberty each year. We need to keep increasing the awareness of the importance of condom use.
"We need your support today as much as we ever have."
NZAF will be hosting an event later this year to celebrate 30 years - more details to come!