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Soaring rate of HIV hot topic for community forum

Soaring rate of HIV hot topic for community forum

Every four days one gay or bisexual man is diagnosed with HIV in New Zealand, according to the AIDS Epidemiology Group, University of Otago.

This has prompted SH4U (Western Bay Sexual Health Coalition) and the New Zealand AIDS Foundation to hold a community forum, Friday 21 July, 4pm-7pm at The Village Hall, The Historic Village, 17th Avenue West, Tauranga (drinks and nibbles provided).

“We’re encouraging gay and bisexual men, their families, people living with HIV, health professionals with an interest in HIV and AIDS and representatives of allied communities and groups alike to attend,” says SH4U (Western Bay Sexual Health Coalition) spokesperson Toni Ashmore. “It’s an opportunity for community members to give feedback, contribute and participate in future New Zealand AIDS Foundation HIV prevention campaigns.”

The forum will provide an overview of HIV prevention strategies for men who have sex with men, specifically those developed following feedback from the 2004 forums and an update on HIV statistics in New Zealand/Aotearoa.

“Last year’s disturbing increase in HIV infections shows we still have a lot of work to do. It’s time to re-evaluate strategies for dealing with the HIV epidemic,” says Toni Ashmore.

The format of the evening will include an open Q&A and discussion session.

“We can’t stress how important these open community forums are for all of us,” she says. “The New Zealand AIDS Foundation is, and always has been, a community-based organisation, and we can’t work in a vacuum.”

Other statistics:

 In 2005, 183 people were diagnosed with HIV through antibody testing in New Zealand, 26 more than in 2004 – a 17% rise.
 89 men who had sex with men were diagnosed with HIV through antibody testing in New Zealand, 14 more than in 2005 – a 19% rise.
 73 people heterosexually infected were diagnosed with HIV in 2005 – a similar number to 2004.


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