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Copeland: HIV status matters in prostitution

Copeland: HIV status matters in prostitution

United Future MP Gordon Copeland is seriously concerned that the collection of information, as part of the national surveillance information for people who test HIV positive, does not identify prostitutes.

"Information on gender, ethnicity, and mode of infection is collected by the AIDS Epidemiology Group, while occupation is not routinely collected at all, " said Mr Copeland.

Mr Copeland submitted written questions to the Minister of Health, Hon. Pete Hodgson, who said that "information [on occupation] is not routinely collected as part of the national surveillance information."

"In spite of that, the Minister advises that at least three sex workers have tested HIV positive in the last five years. This may however be only the tip of the iceberg," said Mr Copeland.

"Unless all sex workers who test HIV positive are identified they may continue to work and this puts the sex workers' clients at serious risk of contracting this disease."

The AIDS Epidemiology Group is charged with monitoring trends in AIDS and HIV infection in New Zealand. AIDS is a notifiable disease, reportable under the law to the local Medical Officer of Health using a special form.

"Prostitution is an industry where HIV status really matters. I strongly believe that knowing exactly how many and which sex workers are HIV positive is a crucial factor in the development of policy to limit and eliminate the spread of AIDS in New Zealand, " Mr Copeland said.

ENDS

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