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HIV Numbers Slow But Epidemic Continues

HIV Numbers Slow But Epidemic Continues

The New Zealand AIDS Foundation (NZAF) is focusing on HIV prevention messages and increasing testing after the release of the latest HIV statistics by the AIDS Epidemiology Group (AEG) at the University of Otago. Rachael Le Mesurier, NZAF Executive Director said “there were 151 new diagnoses of HIV in New Zealand last year, compared with a record high of 184 in 2008. While we’re relieved that there were less people diagnosed than in 2008, another 151 people contracting HIV means that we are still experiencing a significant HIV epidemic in New Zealand.”

The latest figures, contained in a report released by the AEG on Friday, are similar to the statistics from 2006 and 2007; 177 and 156 respectively. The report shows that of the 151 new diagnoses, 80 occurred in New Zealand.

Le Mesurier says “in the midst of an epidemic, HIV prevention and testing is essential. The fiscal cost of 151 new people who will all need to begin antiretroviral treatment at some point is very high, the cost in lost productivity from people who are unwell is also great but the true price is the social cost of HIV, in lives cut short and lives significantly affected. That price is huge.”

Gay and bisexual men continue to be the population most affected by HIV, with 55 infections reported to have occurred domestically. Among heterosexuals, 19 people were reported to be infected in New Zealand.

Using condoms and lube can prevent HIV transmission during sex. Le Mesurier says “The development of a condom culture would be a giant step forward for the health and wellbeing of New Zealand and would stop this epidemic.”


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