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Research reinforces condoms and lube stance

Wed 30 May 2012 In: New Zealand Daily News View at Wayback

The New Zealand AIDS Foundation says new research reinforces its unwavering condoms-and-lube-every-time stance. A paper published in the International Journal of STD and AIDS by researchers at the University of Otago reports that the number of gay and bisexual men diagnosed with HIV from 1999 to 2009, the decade following the widespread introduction of subsidised anti-retroviral drugs (ARVs), increased by 137 per cent. “The effectiveness of new combination ARV treatment introduced in 1996 has substantially reduced the number of people who are dying from AIDS and HIV-related conditions,” says NZAF Executive Director Shaun Robinson. “This is an excellent outcome. However, it also means there are more than double the number of gay and bisexual men in the community now who can transmit HIV if they’re not using condoms and lube.” Robinson says other research that is starting to come to the fore points to the failure of previously promising interventions for gay and bisexual men. “The latest research into the preventive effects of having an undetectable viral load shows that HIV levels are very low in the blood that’s taken for the test. Unfortunately, the levels of HIV in rectal mucosa and semen – the fluids that transmit HIV during anal sex – are much higher. He says the invasive and difficult procedures required to regularly test rectal mucosa and semen have led to delays in research being undertaken and thus, information being available. “In light of the trends over the recent decade, and the unreliability of viral load being an accurate indicator for the risk of sexual transmission, we’re strongly advocating that universal condom use is still the way forward,” Robinson concludes. “Relying on knowledge about HIV status and HIV treatment alone doesn’t work to prevent HIV transmission. If they did then there wouldn’t have been a 137 per cent increase in HIV in the communities that we’re serving. Luckily, there’s still one intervention that will prevent HIV and that’s condoms and lube.”    

Credit: Daily News staff

First published: Wednesday, 30th May 2012 - 1:19pm

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