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No Room For Complacency With HIV/AIDS

1 December 2005

The Ministry of Health reminds New Zealanders not to be complacent about HIV and AIDS

Taking responsibility for safe sex behaviour continues to be the best form of protection against disease such as HIV.

The Ministry of Health and the AIDS Foundation have taken the opportunity of World AIDS Day to remind people who are sexually active about the effectiveness of condoms.

The Ministry's Senior Advisor of Public Health Medicine, Dr Alison Roberts, says today is World AIDS Day and the theme of "lifesavers" aims to increase awareness about condoms and safe sex.

"There is still no cure for HIV and AIDS, but it is preventable. It's important safe sex messages around using condoms reach a very broad range of people and that we remind people of these messages regularly," Dr Roberts says.

Figures from the AIDS Epidemiology Group at Otago University show to the end of September 2005 a total of 2417 people have been found to be infected with HIV in New Zealand and a total of 884 people notified as having AIDS.

New Zealand is not affected like other countries by epidemic rates of the disease, but we can not afford to become complacent, Dr Roberts says.

During the first three quarters of 2005 AIDS Epidemiology Group figures show 135 people were found to be infected with HIV. Of these, 104 were males and 31 were females. An additional 26 people were identified with HIV who had a diagnostic test elsewhere.

While men who have sex with men remain the single largest group at risk of HIV, all people need to be aware of the risks.

"To reduce HIV in this country people need to take responsibility for their personal safety by having safe sex and protecting themselves and their partner against the infection," Dr Roberts says.

ENDS

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