Condom wallet competition underway with aim of preventing HIV among young Māori

Instances of new HIV diagnosis in New Zealand continues to decline for a second year since the alarming spike in 2016 which recorded the highest in the country’s history.

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New diagnosis of HIV in New Zealand is declining, but the numbers are increasing for gay Māori men. Source: Te Karere

But the numbers have increased for Māori and in an attempt to bring the number down, New Zealand’s AIDS Foundation (NZAF) has teamed up with a Māori youth provider to do something about it.

That something is a competition to design a condom wallet as a means to prevent HIV among Māori.

Ricky Te Akau from NZAF told TVNZ1's Te Karere the competition is aimed specifically at young Māori.

"It's also with Te Kaha o Te Rangatahi Trust, so it's just around increasing awareness and getting some buy in."

In 2017, of the 128 new HIV transmissions among men who have sex with men, seven were Māori. In 2018, the total number decreased to 111, but increased for Māori by 16 per cent.

"We don’t have any hard information around those numbers," Mr Te Akau says.

"Could be just a blip in data that we’ve received. But it’s also potentially the rise in testing for people particularly among Māori who are taking up prep."

Te Kaha promotes sexual education in South Auckland schools, but Te Kaha o Te Rangatahi CEO, Natasha Kemp says there’s still a long way to go still.

"There’s not enough prevention and education in raising awareness around sexual heath for our rangatahi [young people]. I also think there’s not enough support or information awareness for parents.

NZAF stats show they distribute up to 700,000 condoms per year, and this competition is a way of promoting condoms to Māori.

They have also created a support group for indigenous queer youth to share ideas and to move forward together.

"[A] safe space to come together talk about their experiences and I guess in light of recent media interest around homophobic abuse or challenges against the queer lifestyle," says Mr Te Akau.

Entries for the competition closes on June 10.