6 Feb 2021

Discrimination still rife for Māori living with HIV, report finds

8:42 am on 6 February 2021

A Māori sexual health group says there's been no progress on ending HIV stigma in more than 25 years.

Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV), computer illustration. HIV is an RNA (ribonucleic acid) virus from the Retroviridae family that causes acquired immune deficiency syndrome (AIDS).

A computer rendition of Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV). Photo: AFP/ SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY

A report released by Te Whāriki Takapou today, based on dozens of interviews with Māori living with HIV, found most still experience discrimination.

Around a quarter were forced to disclose their HIV-status by employers or government services, and a similar number had their status disclosed to friends without their consent.

Te Whāriki Takapou chief executive Alison Green said there needed to be a public awareness campaign and more investment in support groups.

"Nothing has been done on eliminating stigma and discrimination either for Māori or for all New Zealanders living from HIV, so it's critical that the government move."

She added that moving to end HIV discrimination is an obligation under Te Tiriti o Waitangi, which guarantees the right to good health.

"While there's no programme to eliminate HIV stigma and discrimination, there are going to be Māori, as there are now, who are not able to achieve good health."

Participants in the report said their ability to work, to form close relationships with whānau and friends, to gain accommodation, and to access health services were all affected by the verbal abuse and discrimination they experienced as a consequence of living with HIV.

Furthermore, some people had lived with HIV for two and three decades and they reported no noticeable reduction in the negative effects.

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