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Monday 08 November 2010

Support organisations welcome HIV report

Posted in: New Zealand Daily News
By Daily News staff - 5th November 2010

The two largest organisations involved in providing support services to gay and bi men with HIV and AIDS have this afternoon enthusiastically welcomed the release of the HIV Services Report and its author's recommendations.

Dr David Miller's much-awaited review, the first of its kind since the HIV epidemic first shattered the gay communities 25 years ago, contains a number of recommendations, including that organisations other than the NZ AIDS Foundation should in future be publicly funded to provide services to assist and support people living with the virus.

Bruce Kilmister
Body Positive, the peer support organisation which stands to benefit most from the recommendation, says it is delighted that its work has been formally acknowledged and that it may be less prone to the income fluctuations which have seen it regularly have to retrench its services in tight economic times.

"This will be a milestone for us if we can secure Ministry Of Health funding," says Body Positive General Manager Bruce Kilmister, "we can’t wait." But he cautions that the cash taps at the Ministry may not be opened to BP and its fellow smaller support organisations for some time. "There is a process to go through and no guarantees have been offered."

However, Body Positive has already started a funding dialogue with the Ministry. "We are only in the formative stages of discussion with MOH. I have given some information but there is a process and more dialogue and information to go through and to be supplied."

Rachael Le Mesurier
The NZAF says the report is a good start but that more work needs to be done to follow up. "The NZAF considers this to be a real step forward and we support all its recommendations," says Chief Executive Rachael Le Mesurier. "We are very happy to see recommendations for areas that have been of concern to the NZAF for some time." She highlights Miller's advice that the Ministry's HIV/AIDS Action Plan and its Sexual and Reproductive Health Strategy need overhauling and that a national HIV research agenda should be established.

Miller, in what he acknowledges is a "stocktake" rather than an audit, based on information supplied by the Foundation, support groups, sexual health and infectious disease experts and a number of people with HIV, has also called for improved assessment of the needs of people with the virus and the establishment of national standards for testing and counselling. He says the AIDS Foundation's testing and counselling service is very well regarded.

Miller's report was commissioned by the Ministry of Health and has been summarised by here.

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