Waiheke is set to enjoy a new species of butterfly thanks to one woman’s crusade against a deadly and debilitating illness.
Sure, those butterflies will adorn the backs of Fullers’ buses and the lapels of their drivers rather than flitting around looking pretty, but what they symbolise is a life-changing breakthrough in the treatment of hepatitis-c.
Via the non-profit organisation Hep C Action, Rachel Stace is a tireless campaigner and patient advocate – not only has she made TV programmes about the disease and talked Fullers boss Mike Horne into providing three buses for her giant adverts during a chance meeting on the ferry, but she’s even travelled as far afield as Vienna, Austria, to get the butterfly adopted internationally as the symbol for the World Health Organisation’s efforts to eliminate the disease worldwide by 2030.
Rachel’s point is simple – what was once a death-sentence diagnosis (hep-c attacks the liver and includes symptoms such as fatigue and depression) is now curable. “The most important point is that 50,000 New Zealanders have hep-c and only half of them know it. Many of them are baby boomers − like much of the Waiheke population. There’s now a free effective cure, so get tested. The butterfly is our way to start the conversation.”
• James Belfield
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