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Major NZ HIV study available for viewing

Thu 6 Aug 2009 In: New Zealand Daily News

The most far-ranging study of the factors behind the rise in new HIV diagnoses amongst gay and bi New Zealand men is being previewed to people with an interest and involvement in gay men's health. Five years in the making, the results of the study, which combines material from in-depth research projects and diagnosis data from 1985 to 2006, formed the basis for a PhD thesis considered "exceptional" by the University of Otago. Author Dr Peter Saxton, a senior researcher at the NZ AIDS Foundation who has studied at the University of Otago's Department of Preventive and Social Medicine, says one of the most important characteristics of the HIV epidemic is the existence of intertwined and overlapping sexual networks. "There is a great complexity in sexual partnering networks amongst the gay and bisexual communities," Saxton says. "Rapid partner change and overlapping relationships mean that unless condoms are used for anal sex HIV is given many opportiunities to infiltrate overlapping networks." Saxton says HIV, which is particularly infectious in the early stages of infection when the infected man may not yet realise he has carrying the debilitating virus, is very easily spread amongst "clusters" of gay men. Saxton has also investigated factors associated with non-condom use, differences between those who make contact online and offline, and changes in behaviours over time. The thesis, which cannot be made publicly available until it has been formally published by a medical journal, which is some way away yet, has been made available by appointment to interested people by the NZ AIDS Foundation in its Auckland national office library and through the Lesbian and Gay Archives of New Zealand in Wellington. Contact NZAF: 09 303 3124, or Contact LAGANZ: 04 474 3000    

Credit: Daily News staff

First published: Thursday, 6th August 2009 - 12:48pm

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