The New Zealand AIDS Foundation is reviewing its health services to see how they can cope better with a doubling in the number of people getting tested over the past five years – which has not been matched by an increase in funding. In the last year alone 3,000 people tested for HIV through the NZAF. The organisation says this has had a flow-on effect to the number of people seeking counselling, causing waiting lists. While the number of people wanting the services has risen, the resources available have not, with government funding increasing only 1.4 per cent since 2008. “We are at the point where we need to look at how we do things,” says Executive Director Shaun Robinson. “There may be some ways we can re-organise ourselves so that more people can get tested and access counselling if they need it.” The NZAF says the role of HIV testing has become increasingly important with the emergence of new science that confirms that early access to HIV treatment has both a strong prevention benefit by reducing infectivity and a significant impact on improved health outcomes for individuals. It says this has placed even more strategic emphasis on the need to increase HIV testing and reduce the rate of undiagnosed and late diagnosed HIV, especially among gay and bisexual men. The NZAF says counselling is a key contribution it makes to supporting people living with HIV, and it also plays a role in helping people to address personal issues that may be leading them to take risks around HIV and sexual health. “Our Health Service has been very innovative and creative over the years; adopting new testing technology, taking testing to new places such as the LYC Big Gay Out and providing support in new ways,” Robinson says. “I’m confident this kind of creative thinking can be applied to the challenges we face now and will allow us to do more quality work with the limited resources we have.” The review is expected to take about two months. It comes as HIV Positive men’s support group Body Positive is closing its Wellington office and downsizing in Auckland due to a financial shortfall of $75,000.
Credit: GayNZ.com Daily News staff
First published: Wednesday, 2nd September 2015 - 7:54am
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