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