Search Browse On This Day Map Quotations Timeline Research Free Datasets Remembered About Contact

NZ singled out for stabilised HIV rates

Thu 18 Dec 2014 In: New Zealand Daily News View at Wayback

As we buck worldwide trends of rising HIV diagnoses among gay and bisexual men, New Zealand has been singled out by the prestigious Lancet Infectious Diseases medical journal. The article points at the UK “unfortunately” being at the forefront of the HIV epidemic in among gay and bisexual men in the developed world”, pointing to diagnoses being at a new all-time high in 2013. It says the numbers are rising at a similar rate across the European Union and European Economic Area, while Australia has its own all-time high in 2012, before remaining relatively high in 2013. The article points to New Zealand and Canada as two developed nations where the numbers of new diagnoses have stabilised; saying behind Canada’s numbers is “a complex pattern of stories in different provinces” which have different approaches. It says British Columbia “has led the progress with its focus on treatment as prevention, and seen a near-halving in new diagnoses between 2004 and 2012”. The report says while New Zealand might seem far removed from the HIV epidemic among ‘men who have sex with men’ [MSM], “its MSM population is at high risk just like MSM in other developed countries. Despite this, New Zealand has maintained its new HIV diagnoses among MSM at about 100 per annum throughout the past decade.” Dr Peter Saxton It quotes Director of New Zealand’s Gay Men’s Sexual Health research group Dr Peter Saxton, who points out the New Zealand AIDS Foundation has maintained a strong focus on peer-led, community-based condom promotion as the mainstay of prevention. Dr Saxton tells Daily News that to have New Zealand's response singled out is testimony to the creative work by Love Your Condom, the New Zealand AIDS Foundation, their volunteers and partner organisations. "A distinctive feature of New Zealand's approach is that it's not overly medicalised and sanitised. It's sex-affirmative, public, and embraces rather than denies sexual cultures. Alongside this it encourages a culture of mutual care and equal responsibility in the face of HIV and STIs,” Dr Saxton says. "This essentially acknowledges that gay and bisexual men may have different social circles but remain connected to each other through ‘six degrees of sexual separation’. It's for this reason gay men all have a stake in prevention, and they're not afraid to say this." --- The Lancet article finishes with a comment from the Head of HIV Surveillance at Public Health England, Valerie Delpech, who says condoms have, without doubt, had a massive impact in curbing HIV incidence among MSM over the past three decades and continue to have a critical role in reducing the risk of HIV infection. “There are also other important strategies including frequent and regular HIV testing and immediate treatment for those who are HIV positive regardless of CD4 count—not yet standard of care in the UK—in combination with prioritised partner notification. PrEP will also benefit those most at risk of infection.” She adds a big picture approach is vital in curbing the HIV epidemic among gay and bisexual men. “It is important to tackle the HIV epidemic in a holistic approach and to ensure the health and wellbeing of people most at risk—including addressing mental health and drug and alcohol issues,” she says. “There is now a move in the UK towards better integrated services for MSM to address these issues.”     

Credit: Daily News staff

First published: Thursday, 18th December 2014 - 2:06pm

Rights Information

This page displays a version of a article that was automatically harvested before the website closed. All of the formatting and images have been removed and some text content may not have been fully captured correctly. The article is provided here for personal research and review and does not necessarily reflect the views or opinions of If you have queries or concerns about this article please email us