This letter is to let all African people living in New
Zealand about the discrimination that is happening
here in New Zealand in regard to the testing,
diagnosis and treatment in the area of enforced HIV
illness. And the letter has been sent to one of the
prominent figure within the African community. We will
appreciate if you can pass on this letter to other
African people within the community.
I believe that the human and health rights of Africans
in New Zealand are being severely transgressed in the
testing, diagnosis and treatment (especially when
enforced) of HIV disease. This discrimination is
manifest in several forms.
Simply being Black African in New Zealand is seen as
"high risk" compared to being tested in African
countries. This is an important consideration in
relation to interpretation of the tests (because the
interpretation is arbitrary).
The staff deciding the test results are informed in
their own 2000 handbook: "By mid 1999, 1,355 patients
had been reported with HIV infection since the
beginning of the epidemic and 678 with AIDS. Currently
there are about 700 HIV infected people living in New
Zealand of whom 107 have AIDS. Homosexual males remain
the biggest identifiable risk group (63% now) but in
the last 18 months infected heterosexual immigrants,
particularly from Africa, are the most rapidly
increasing group. After falling for several years, the
number of newly reported HIV infected people rose in
1998, significantly contributed to by this immigrant
group." I.e. it's those Black Africans who are
increasing our rate of HIV disease, not our racist
coercion in testing. Black Africans are more than 200
times more likely to be "positive" on these tests.
Rules of privacy and confidentiality are not adhered
to; the doctors reason that hospital personnel have a
right to know if a Black African has HIV so they don't
"catch" the AIDS disease. This despite the fact that
not one single health care worker anywhere in the
world has contracted AIDS through accidental exposure
in the 23 years since the 'epidemic' began.
Black Africans and their children are being coerced
into these tests, where white Europeans are not. A
Black African presenting with any medical condition,
however unrelated to any possible HIV disease, to a
New Zealand hospital suffers great pressure to get an
MOH and Statistics NZ figures demonstrate that Black
Africans have a higher prevalence of HIV in New
Zealand than the reported rate in extremely high risk
and frequently tested prisoners in South African
prisons. The prison population comprises intravenous
drug users and men who have sex with men without
condoms. Given that these prisoners are all tested
every 6 months, how can it be that clean-living,
monogamous Africans in New Zealand are more likely to
have HIV disease? There is something very wrong with
Black Africans are much more likely to have a false
positive test result due to exposure to TB, malaria,
leprosy, inherited blood disorders like sickle cell
anaemia, malnutrition and many other factors.
MOH statistics also demonstrate that over 300 Black
Africans in New Zealand at this time have HIV disease.
Many if not most of these likely represent false
positives, but people are instructed to take anti-HIV
medicines that are extremely harmful (and more so to
Black people). In the case of Black African children,
the parents are being ordered by the courts to give
their children the anti-HIV medicine.
Almost every person taking these drugs experiences
severe and life-threatening side effects. Most adults
decide the treatment is worse than the disease and
stop taking the drugs. Black African children do not
have this right according to the doctors.
Doctors are lying to the courts by stating that
HIV-infected Africans pose a risk to the wider
community if they refuse anti-HIV drugs; even the
manufacturers drug prescribing sheets state that
taking the drugs does not prevent transmission to
In any event, HIV appears to have extremely low
transmissibility; a study in the US followed hundreds
of couples where one partner was positive and the
other negative for 10 years. Twenty five percent of
the couples did not use condoms regularly, and 47
couples reported having unsafe sex, but not one single
negative person became positive.
It is certain that many Africans have died from taking
the anti-HIV drugs. More than 20% of Black Americans
have a genetic difference in the way their body
processes the drugs, which can result in blood drug
levels three times higher than they should be – a
potentially lethal dose. In Black Africans this
genetic difference is likely to be higher than 20%.
When the African person dies from these drugs, the
doctors write "AIDS" on the death certificate.
We feel these issues need to be raised publicly; Black
Africans have a right to know these facts. An article
highlighting these concerns is in the process of being
written and will be published on the scoop.co.nz
website, but it isn't enough. I am hoping that as a
prominent African in NZ you can help bring to light
these terrible injustices.
We have been working with 2 excellent human rights
lawyers on one individual case, and the lawyers would
be happy to instigate a class-action lawsuit on behalf
of all Black Africans who may have been harmed, or
whose rights have been infringed by the racist medical
system in New Zealand.
Felix Mwashomah & Cathy van Miert
Tel: 09-5277257, or 09-5261954.
Tuko Sayari moja, tunaishi dunia mbali mbali
Maisha chemsha bongo, jaza mwenyewe.