A HIV-positive advocate has been named this year’s Mr Gay New Zealand for raising community awareness around the virus.
Charlie Tredway beat out nine other finalists for the win, and will now represent the country at the Mr Gay World Finals in Spain later this year.
Cody Jarvie came in second place and Alexander Kachfi placed third.
Tredway said he was overwhelmed by the win.
“I’m just really overwhelmed, never in a million years,” he said.
“The community got behind me and I’ve run out of words.”
Before taking the win, the South African-born Kiwi spoke about why he’s so passionate about advocating for HIV awareness.
“I think it’s one of the most taboo topics, mired in shame and shrouded in misinformation than just about anything else in our community,” he said.
“I’d like to say people are all informed but in 2015 we had the highest number of new transmissions in the history of New Zealand, and yet you only have to read the comments on any post pertaining to HIV to see that many people don’t think it’s an issue any more.
“And as a HIV-positive person, you only need to open an app and disclose to encounter hostility and misguided fear.”
Last year’s Mr Gay New Zealand Bernard Lee believes Tredway will be a tremendous ambassador for the country.
“Charlie has been really strong across the whole competition including the public vote and charity sections where he ranked highest out of all the finalists,” he said.
“His work with the NZAF and the Ending HIV campaigns will complement all of the work he will do as an ambassador for New Zealand on the world stage.”
Mr Gay World 2017 will be held in Madrid and the Canary Islands in May.