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Louisa Wall: We need more HIV research, not less

Thu 6 Oct 2016 In: New Zealand Daily News View at Wayback View at NDHA

Louisa Wall MP Lesbian MP Louisa Wall says more research is needed into the factors driving the HIV epidemic amongst gay and bisexual men, not less. Her comment comes in response to the Ministry of Health denying funding to the most important behavioural study of the risk factors underlying the HIV epidemic amongst NZ gay and bisexual men. Information from the last time the survey was conducted is already almost three years out of date. "It is surprising that as HIV diagnoses are increasing amongst men who have sex with men, accounting for over 60% of new diagnoses, the most important on-going research conducted in this country from 2002 into the nature of the changing HIV epidemic has been declined funding by the Ministry of Health," Wall says. She observes that the most recent report of the Gay Men's Sexual health research group at the University of Auckland "noted the environment surrounding HIV treatments, transmissability and sexually transmitted infections has changed considerably," year by year, "and an updated analysis of sexual partnering, sero-sorting and sexual practices among gay and bisexual men living with HIV is warranted." "In June last year Shaun Robinson, then Executive Director of the NZ AIDS Foundation, noted that this was the third year in a row that the number of gay and bisexual men diagnosed with HIV had increased," Wall said this afternoon, "and I agree that this is a seriously concerning trend." And she believes not funding the research can only add to the burden ongoing treatment of those infected with HIV faced by the health system. "The cost of HIV infection, from an editorial in the NZ Medical Journal noting the lifetime cost of treating a single case of HIV, can be $800,000. Therefore, investing in research to prevent infection is very sound fiscally as well as being in the best interests of public health and the gay community." "It is clear that there is the need for increased HIV prevention awareness and action in the gay community and we need more research not less."    

Credit: Daily News staff

First published: Thursday, 6th October 2016 - 9:15pm

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