Kiwi Africans urged to Love, Cover, Protect
A SOCIAL media campaign for African communities to prevent HIV is the first of its kind by the New Zealand Aids Foundation.
Love Cover Protect aims to create awareness of “condom culture” within African communities, emphasising condoms and lubricant as the single best way to protect partners from HIV
“New Zealand-based Africans are the second group most affected by HIV in New Zealand (gay and bisexual men are the first),” says Shaun Robinson, the foundation’s executive director.
“But it’s easy to stay safe and healthy by using condoms every time you have sex,” says Mr Robinson.
Last year 3474 people were diagnosed with HIV, and 1800 of them are receiving treatment for the disease.
Ms Robinson says Africans living with HIV in New Zealand were disadvantaged in comparison to other people living with HIV and the New Zealand population in general.
Africans living with HIV in New Zealand reported less favourable treatment in relation to health services and employment, in a study by Massey University social work lecture Dr Mark Hendrickson.
The new study focussed on HIV positive black migrants and refugees.
Anna, a participant in the study, says she was asked about her HIV status during a job interview and her status was later disclosed to others while working on the job.
Jane, a HIV positive woman, was training to be a nurse when she was told to change professions by her tutor because of her HIV status.
“This is a clear violation of privacy and confidentiality, not to mention illegal,” says Dr Hendrickson.
Positive Women national coordinator Jane Bruning says African women with HIV feel stigmatised and socially isolated in New Zealand.
“There is an element of shame with having HIV in African community, often it will take two years before a woman approaches us because they fear seeing another African woman at our workshops,” says Ms Bruning.
Positive Women, a self referral peer support for woman living with HIV, works closely with Auckland hospital and other health agencies.
Ms Bruning says African women are marginalised and discriminated against because they are black Africans and because of their HIV status.
“There is this common perception that HIV is often labelled as something gay men or African people have. Its quite stigmatising and isolating,” says Ms Bruning