Before my brother's partner passed away my family support was the one thing he asked for in his last days of life in the UK. He said, “Take me back to your mum and your family; I want to be with them.” He died to AIDS on 20 January 1994, his NZ service was one I will never forget. It was a cold and uninviting Tangi; there was a sense of shame on the shoulders of his mother and others there. I couldn’t stop crying for my brother’s partner. 

I read out the words my brother had asked me to relay in his absence as he was still in the UK. One thing he asked me to do was to look straight at his partner's mother and read the letter out proudly. I looked right in her eyes and she sharply turned her head. I stood up and spoke up about the love my brother had for her son, I shared how much our family love their brother, uncle, nephew, friend, and son. I thank him on behalf of all my family for making my brother one of the happiest men on earth. I was a bit sad that his family didn’t show or tell how much they loved him, but deep down inside I know they really did love their brother and son and maybe didn’t know how to express their love for him like us.

When the service finished a whole lot of people came and cuddled me and thanked me so much for my talk. They said it was so lovely to know how much our family loved their dear friend and family member.  

"Families are forever"

My brother was surrounded by all my family when we first found out he was HIV positive in 1986. Our family called a fat as meeting at my mum's house with all my cousin's aunties, there were about 30 family members there. We invited a member from the NZAF to come and talk to our family about this new infection called HIV. My mum took it the hardest, my brother was her king. First son born, and how she found out wasn’t the best but it happened and was forgotten fast (but that’s another story).

My brother was very handsome, cool calm and collected; he was loved by all the girls and boys. He was a top sportsman’s in rugby, touch football, sprints - you name it, he was the man. After his Tangi in Australia, we had another one here in Wellington for all his friends and family that missed out on his farewell, at their request. My brother was very sad when his partner died and missed him dearly. He didn’t have another partner; he lived his life for our family because he knew his time was coming close.

He was diagnosed when he was 22 and died at the age of 32 in Gold Coast Hospital Australia on 2 October 1996. My mum always said that when she dies it will be the happiest day of her life. We asked “why mum?” She goes, “because I will get to see my son again.” My mum's is happy now she is with him; she passed on Sunday 9th Feb 2014. I miss them both so much! But I am so blessed to have had the best mum and the best big handsome brother in the world.

Real People

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  • 📝 31, Gay, Auckland
  • "HIV isn’t a cause for shame or some dirty little secret... I firmly believe that the more honesty and frank discussion we have about HIV, the better."
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  • 📝 42, Straight, Hamilton
  • "You can live with the virus, but the stigma will kill you emotionally. I encourage you to talk about HIV; that is the only way we can fight the stigma."
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  • 📝 45, Gay, Wellington
  • "We are people living with a chronic illness, but we are normal people, worthy of love and respect. It's time to start talking about this disease."
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  • 📝 52, Straight, Southland
  • "My message is that people are people. New Zealand thinks it’s Godzone, but it’s a little bit closed-minded. We needed to accept each other and love each other."
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  • 📝 63, Gay, Auckland
  • "As far as I’m concerned, I don’t have the problem – you have the problem. Because you need to learn to accept the way I am, because I’m no different, it’s just that I carry HIV."
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  • 📝 67, Straight, Southland
  • "I was lucky that I wasn’t treated any differently... I think that because of the way I was infected I didn’t suffer from the stigma that often goes along with an HIV infection."
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  • 📝 55, Straight, Northland
  • "Most people have a 1970’s/80s perspective of HIV. I’m on one pill a day for the rest of my life, and as long as I stick to that, I expect I’ll live to 90. "
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  • 📝 39, Straight, Auckland
  • "Some of the positive stories that have come from my HIV diagnosis are that I’ve learnt who my real friends are and I’ve gotten closer to my family. I’ve also learnt to love myself."
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  • 📝 24, Gay, Sydney
  • "To those who have HIV, like me: you are normal, you are loved, you matter and you are important. Together we can dust off the cobwebs of over 30 years of stigma."
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  • 📝 Female, Straight, Sister
  • "Families are forever."
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  • 📝 31, Gay, Auckland
  • "No matter what, I have the support that I need to get me through anything."