Governor General Zero-ing In For World AIDS Day

Press Release – AIDS Foundation

On Friday, 25 November (the Friday before World AIDS Day) Auckland commuters will be able to spot the Lt Gen Rt Hon Sir Jerry Mateparae, the Governor General of New Zealand, standing in Britomart under a bright red, zero-shaped balloons. The zero …Governor General Zero-ing In For World AIDS Day

On Friday, 25 November (the Friday before World AIDS Day) Auckland commuters will be able to spot the Lt Gen Rt Hon Sir Jerry Mateparae, the Governor General of New Zealand, standing in Britomart under a bright red, zero-shaped balloons. The zero is a simple but eye-catching way to bring the global theme of World AIDS Day, called Getting to Zero, to New Zealand. Sir Jerry is the Patron of the New Zealand AIDS Foundation (NZAF) who are delighted at his commitment to World AIDS Day.

Shaun Robinson, NZAF Executive Director, said “We sent Sir Jerry and Lady Janine red ribbons along with an invitation to wear them on the day of the World AIDS Day street appeal. Government House responded with an offer of help for the street collection which is phenomenal. The Governor-General has always been the Patron of the NZAF, all the way back to Sir Paul Reeves, when the HIV epidemic first came to New Zealand. But Sir Jerry is the first one to offer to rattle a bucket and it shows an amazing commitment to the communities we’re serving”.

Getting to Zero focuses on three inspirational messages; zero new HIV infections, zero AIDS related deaths and zero discrimination. Launched by UNAIDS earlier, this year, these three messages also reflect issues that are at the forefront of New Zealand’s HIV epidemic; HIV prevention initiatives, access to essential treatment and equality for people living with HIV.

The street collection is the cornerstone of a variety of World AIDS Day events to be held around New Zealand and collections will take place in Auckland, Wellington, Christchurch, Timaru and Invercargill. The volunteer collectors will exchange red ribbons, the international sign of solidarity with people living with HIV, for donations. The red ribbon is the original ‘ribbon’ campaign. Created by New York artists in 1991 the red ribbon is an international symbol of solidarity with people living with HIV and AIDS. Its creators http://www.thebody.com/visualaids/current/ribbon_project.html chose red for it’s ‘connection to blood and the idea of passion – not only anger, but love, like a valentine’.

The latest HIV figures from the AIDS Epidemiology Group at the University of Otago have shown a sharp decline in HIV diagnoses for heterosexual New Zealanders but the news is not all good. Last year, was the worst year on record with 95 new diagnoses of HIV among New Zealand’s gay and bisexual men The previous peak for this group was 93 in 2008.

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