HIV di­ag­noses hit record

Central Leader - - WHAT’S ON - ANNA LOREN

More peo­ple were di­ag­nosed with HIV in New Zealand last year than at any other time since records be­gan in 1985.

New fig­ures from Otago Univer­sity’s AIDS Epi­demi­ol­ogy Group show 244 peo­ple were di­ag­nosed with HIV in New Zealand in 2016.

The pre­vi­ous high­est num­ber of di­ag­noses was 224, in 2015.

Gay, bi­sex­ual and other men who have sex with men were most af­fected.

Of the 244 peo­ple di­ag­nosed, 159 were men in­fected through ho­mo­sex­ual sex. That num­ber was up from 136 in 2014 and 153 in 2015. Forty-two peo­ple – 22 men and 20 women – were in­fected through het­ero­sex­ual sex, while one per­son was in­fected through in­ject­ing drugs.

For most of the other peo­ple, the means of in­fec­tion was not re­ported.

About 3500 peo­ple in to­tal are es­ti­mated to be liv­ing with HIV in New Zealand.

AIDS Epi­demi­ol­ogy Group leader Dr Sue McAl­lis­ter said the in­crease in di­ag­noses in 2016 could be par­tially at­trib­uted to an em­pha­sis on HIV test­ing among at-risk com­mu­ni­ties.

How­ever, blood tests in­di­cated that al­most half the men who had been in­fected through ho­mo­sex­ual sex had con­tracted the virus ‘‘rel­a­tively re­cently’’ sug­gest­ing a ‘‘true rise’’ in the num­ber of HIV in­fec­tions through­out New Zealand, she said.

KEVIN STENT/FAIR­FAX NZ

New Zealand AIDS Foun­da­tion ex­ec­u­tive di­rec­tor Dr Ja­son My­ers says con­doms are ‘‘still the best way’’ to pre­vent HIV trans­mis­sion.

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