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Wednesday 09 November 2016

New NZAF life members' dedication honoured

Posted in: New Zealand Daily News
By Daily News staff - 6th November 2016

Five people were last evening awarded with Life Memberships of the NZ AIDS Foundation, marking their stand-out involvement in the fight against the spread of HIV and work for those affected by it.

Nigel Dickson, Jane Bruning, Bruce Kilmister, Anna Reed and Geoff Rua'ine
Retired Associate Professor Nigel Dickson was a driving force behind the collection and analysis of data on the epidemic from its start thirty years ago. He paid tribute to the many others over the year who have worked in the AIDS Epidemiology Group.

Jane Bruning, who heads the women's peer support and advocacy group Positive Women, is one of only six out of over a hundred HIV-positive women who is open about her status.

Bruce Kilmister until recently had headed national peer support and advocacy organisation Body Positive for two decades. He is also a past board member of the NZAF, worked at the forefront of the Homosexual Law reform campaign and carried glbti community needs into the decision-makers of Auckland local body politics.

Very early in the HIV/AIDS epidemic Anna Reed joined the efforts to support those with HIV and those in danger of contracting it, when illegality and even greater stigma than is now attached to the disease created fear amongst sex workers and men who have sex with men. he recalled how man "beautiful people" died in the first decades of the epidemic.

Geoff Rua'ine has also worked for decades educating people about the dangers of HIV and how to avoid it. He has particularly focused on Maori and polynesian communities, especially in the South Island, the far north and the Pacific islands.

The awards were presented by one of the earliest executive directors of the NZAF, Warren Lindberg who looked back to the early days of HIV in New Zealand, three decades ago. He noted that the fight against it triggered great legal, political and social change right across the country and lamented that more of the history of that pivotal era has not been recorded for posterity.

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