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Monday 10 April 2017


World AIDS Day: Please donate!

Posted in: Health & HIV, Features
By GayNZ.com Daily News staff - 27th November 2014

This Friday collectors will hit the streets in the main centres, shaking their buckets to raise money for HIV work. Part of that cash is passed on to the Wellness Fund, a nationally accessed last resort financial backstop for HIV-positive people in dire situations.

The Wellness Fund is administered by HIV-positive people's advocacy and support organisation Body Positive. Retiring BP general manager Bruce Kilmister explains how your donation this Friday on the streets or in shopping centres, or any time online or by phone, could be used.

(Some details have been slightly altered to protect the identity and privacy of the people whose experiences are related here)



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(File photo)
"We were introduced to a young man who was born with HIV. His mother had been an intravenous drug user who had contracted HIV and then become pregnant. Her partner was also a needle user so this young man had had a very rugged upbringing. His mother had been killed by her partner, the young man's father, who was himself in turn killed due to connections in the drug world. The young man was left alone.

When we met him he was basically homeless, had no income and was sleeping on the floor at the back of a shop. We were able to help him move into better accommodation, to get him support from WINZ and to help him re-engage with medical support. Eventually we were able to help him turn his life around.

That's only one such situation we often deal with. We often have to assist gay boys who have returned home from overseas, for instance from Australia, who have got caught up in the party life in Sydney or Melbourne, who have partied hard including using drugs and who have contracted HIV. But when they get back here they don't really know anyone. We have to work hard to gain their trust and offer them support.

In all my years of this I have learned that you can't get anyone well until they are ready to get well. You can't make anyone do anything... all you can do is say 'We're here and we can help if you want it.' We've been fortunate that when they are ready they do engage with us and we've been able to get them into counselling or medical treatment or whatever it takes to sort their lives out.

I'm also thinking, for instance, of a man who lives cheaply in a smallish country town, who has HIV-related health problems but was terrified of what it would cost him if he called an ambulance. So the Wellness Fund has paid for a year's St. John Ambulance subscription and I can only hope there will be enough in the Fund for that to be done again next year.

Dental treatment is vital for people with HIV as mouth infections can quickly compromise their overall health but it is often expensive so we can try to contribute from the Fund to that.

There are frequently other medical expenses and even if those and other costs are covered or partly-covered by, say, WINZ, it can take a month of form filling and waiting for approvals before the money is available and that's a long time when your health is getting worse day by day and you are trying to cope with all the other problems HIV can create in your life.

The Wellness Fund has become increasingly important because it's that very rare instrument we have that gives us some discretion in the way we meet whatever need is presented to us. And that need can often be something that at first glance might seem trifling in other people's lives but for these folk it can be a godsend.

To be honest, we really struggle to keep at least a little cash in the Wellness Fund for the next person in need."




Donations can be made on Friday to World AIDS Day collectors on main streets and some shopping centres in most main centres.

Or you can donate directly to the Wellness Fund any time by internet transfer to Kiwibank account # 389001 0271399 001, with the word Wellness in the Particulars field and your name in the Reference field. A one-off donation is fine but if you are able to make an on-going automatic payment it would be much appreciated.

Or donate by credit card by calling 0800 448 5463 and advising the operator that your donation is specifically for the Wellness Fund.



GayNZ.com Daily News staff - 27th November 2014

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