A Kiwi hottie dedicated to HIV advocacy has taken out the 2017 Mr Gay New Zealand title.
Auckland man, Charlie Tredway, is not only living with HIV but devotes his life to HIV advocacy and community awareness.
Tredway, 33, is a community engagement officer at the New Zealand AIDS Foundation (NZAF) and won the competition on Sunday.
‘I’m just really overwhelmed, never in a million years,’ he said after his win.
‘The community got behind me and I’ve run out of words.’
Tredway won the competition after ten finalists were put through a range of activities and will represent New Zealand at the Mr Gay World Finals in Spain in May.
Before the final, the South African-born man spoke about why he is so passionate about the cause.
‘I know I sort of seem like a one issue pony but creating a discussion around HIV and Sexual Health is the reason I wanted to enter in Mr Gay NZ,’ he said.
‘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.
‘And as an HIV positive person, you only need open an app and disclose to encounter hostility and misguided fear.
‘We are in a really bold time for the HIV prevention response. Now more than ever before we have a combination of tools that can, without hyperbole, end new transmissions of HIV and make stigma a thing of the past.
‘But to do that, people need to be informed, open to discussing this sort of thing, and move past the apathy.’
Charlie Tredway: the new ambassador
2016 Mr Gay New Zealand Winner Bernard Lee said Tredway will be a tremendous ambassador for New Zealand.
‘Charlie has been really strong across the whole competition including the public vote and charity sections where he ranked highest out of all of 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.’