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Figures Show Early Signs of Success in NZL Approach to HIV

19 December 2011

New Figures Show Early Signs of Success in NZL Approach to HIV

New figures for HIV diagnoses are the first sign that a sexy new approach to HIV prevention of the New Zealand AIDS Foundation (NZAF) may be effective in slowing the recent surge of the HIV epidemic in New Zealand. Figures twice yearly by the AIDS Epidemiology Group at the University of Otago show that in the first six months of 2011 there were 58 new diagnoses of HIV in New Zealand compared with 71 for the same period in 2010. Gay and bisexual men are the population group with the highest rates of HIV in New Zealand with 43 men diagnosed by the end of June 2010 compared to 33 by the end of June 2011.

The NZAF’s social marketing programme, Get it On! was launched in September 2009, and uses a sexy, glamorous approach to promote condom use to gay and bisexual men. Shaun Robinson, NZAF Executive Director, says: “compared with the first six months of 2010, there was a 23% decrease in new HIV diagnoses for gay and bisexual men. The best scientific research and evidence available said that appealing marketing and a powerful online presence on that sites that gay men actually go to would increase rates of condom use. These figures show that this approach was the right one and it’s beginning to pay off.”

Robinson says a key ingredient in making Get it On! successful is ensuring condoms and lube are accessible to the people most at risk of HIV. “In 2009 we distributed 300,000 free condom and lube packs. This year we expect to hand out around 500,000 – that’s a lot of condoms.”

Robinson is cautious about being too optimistic. “Epidemiology is measured over five or ten years so we can’t read too much into these stats yet. But I’m hopeful that our prevention strategy is working. If people from the communities most at risk of HIV keep using condoms and lube we may have some very good news in the New Year.”

ENDS

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