PM visits Big Gay Out to announce HIV funding

By Jessica Tyson

Thousands attending the Big Gay Out in Auckland today received a special visit from Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern who announced new funding to support the LGBTI community.

The Ministry of Health-funded research of $300,000 will go towards research to ensure HIV and STI prevention services are targeted appropriately in New Zealand.  

"There is much talk about the inclusion of the rainbow community but part of that is ensuring there is no disadvantage in terms of healthcare. This will help make that a reality," Ardern says.

More than 60 percent of New Zealanders diagnosed with HIV in 2018 were gay or bisexual, so the research will study rates of HIV and STI testing, sexual behaviour, condom use, PrEP and inequities in this context.

This will help the ministry guide the purchase, targeting, delivery and evaluation of HIV and STI prevention services in New Zealand.

“That support within our schools we hope will reach those rangatahi who may be struggling with their identity or have negative mental health outcomes,” the Prime Minister says.

Finance Minister Grant Robertson says, “Takatāpui Māori are going to have different experiences so it is really important that those funds are available to target them.”

According to the recent Counting Ourselves report, around 80 per cent of transgender people interviewed had considered attempting suicide.

MP Tamati Coffey says more support is needed for the transgender community.

“They’re still marginalised, they’re still not having the same access to health and to education and to employment as the rest of us, so we as the wider community need to wrap around the trans community," he says.

The Prime Minister also gave further details on the establishment of the Rainbow Wellbeing Legacy Fund that was announced last year, which supports the young people of the rainbow community.

She said the fund would be managed by the Rule Foundation, as recommended by rainbow organisations, which would receive the $1 million endowment flagged in 2019.

The inaugural application round will open in June 2020 and will provide up to $100,000 to rainbow organisations working to improve mental health, particularly for young people.