World AIDS Day 1 December. Be HIV Sure, Get Tested
Over the past 10 years, 55% of heterosexual men and women diagnosed with HIV, have been diagnosed late. 45% of late diagnoses were amongst people over the age of 40. A late HIV diagnoses results in poorer health outcomes and for 26 people over the past 10 years, it resulted in death. Deaths that were avoidable.
“The reason these people are being diagnosed late” says Jane Bruning, National Coordinator of Positive Women Inc., “is because they are not perceived to be at risk. So even when they turn up sick at the GP clinic or in hospital, sometimes repeatedly, offering them an HIV test is not even a consideration.”
AIDS related deaths are totally avoidable due to the significant advances in science, with the production of extremely effective HIV antiretroviral medication. Once on HIV medication, a person’s immune system can rebuild itself and the HIV virus is reduced to undetectable levels in the blood. This enables the person with HIV to have a life expectancy the same as someone who does not have HIV. Also, a person with an undetectable viral load, cannot pass HIV on to anyone else, through either casual or sexual contact, or through pregnancy.
While HIV prevalence amongst heterosexual men and women is not high in Aotearoa, the soon to be released HIV Action Plan by te Whata Ora, aims to have HIV transmission eliminated in Aotearoa by 2032 in line with the global UNAIDS 2030 targets.
“For Aotearoa to achieve these goals, and for people to be able to live their best life, every person needs to have the right to information about and access to, an HIV test”, says Jane Bruning, “currently there is not an equitable structure for this to happen”.
To commemorate World AIDS day this year, Positive Women Inc. released a facebook campaign on 20 November, promoting a call to action by encouraging people to have an HIV test. Not just as a one off but to incorporate the test into a regular sexual health check.
Normalising HIV testing will help to destigmatise HIV, save lives, provide a better quality of life for those living with HIV and facilitate the elimination of HIV transmission.
Reference information on next page
Positive Women Inc.
Positive Women Inc. is a registered charity established in 1990. We provide HIV support, awareness, and education with a focus on women and families in Aotearoa. Please see website for further information.
- UNAIDS elimination of AIDS by 2030 targets
- Delayed diagnosis of HIV infection in women in the Auckland and Northland regions
NZ Medical Journal: Judy Gilmour,
Rebecca Henley, Michele Lowe, Simon Briggs
Te Whata Ora
Positive Women Inc. World AIDS Day 2022
Be HIV Sure, Get Tested for World AIDS Day facebook campaign.