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Facebook prank promising free phone credit 'causing havoc' for NZ AIDS Foundation call centre

A Facebook post that promised a $10 phone credit is causing havoc for the New Zealand AIDS Foundation after it linked to their free phone number.

Telemarketing

The post, which has since been taken down by Facebook, listed the NZ AIDS Foundation 0800 helpline number as the one to call to receive a $10 phone credit.

The foundation says it received hundreds of calls over the past 24 hours, swamping its call centre staff and tying up phone lines.

According to the foundation, comments on the Facebook posts confirmed that the number was chosen intentionally, seemingly for comedic effect.

"HIV is not a joke," said NZAF CEO Dr Jason Myers in a statement today.

"Using HIV or AIDS as a punchline only serves to create additional stigma. This not only harms people living with HIV but also deters people from coming forward for an HIV test.

"42% of Kiwis surveyed in 2018 said they would feel uncomfortable having their food prepared by someone living with HIV. We clearly have a long way to go before the general public understand the risks of acquiring HIV in 2020 and what it is to live with the virus in the era of successful treatment.

"Anyone with time to share harmful posts like these could instead redirect their energy to our upcoming fundraiser, Sweat with Pride," said Dr Myers. "Stigma and discrimination lead to higher rates of mental health issues and even suicide. Sign up to raise money to fight the ongoing stigma our rainbow communities face."