Māori living with HIV to be represented at UN

By Aroha Treacher
  • North Island: East Coast

HIV advocate Marama Mullen will represent Māori and New Zealand at the United Nations Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues in New York.

“It’s important for me as Māori and being at this indigenous hui in New York to really shine a light on indigenous issues around HIV," explains Mullen "if we don't address it, there is potential for it to get out of control in indigenous communities."

The forum will be a five day event beginning next week that will be held at the United Nations headquarters where many other indigenous countries will be present.

“HIV is very low in numbers in New Zealand however  there was an increase last year in new infections and we’re seeing how the epidemic is changing,” explains Mullen.

It is estimated there are just over 3000 people in New Zealand living with HIV which is still considered low to international standards.

Mullen has worked internationally with various indigenous groups around the world in comparative studies between different countries looking at similarities and differences and trends.

Her extensive advocacy work in the HIV community has meant she has a solid handle on what is happening not only nationally but around the world.

“These indigenous meetings, they have them every year, but there is never much focus on HIV and sexual health.”

“It is just reflective of how we are as a people and how we don’t talk about those tapu type of things.”

Mullen is the chair of the International Indigenous HIV & AIDS Community.