NZ HIV infection numbers drop

Published: March 8, 2012

The 109 people newly diagnosed with HIV in New Zealand in 2011 was the lowest level in nearly a decade.

Publishing the data today, the AIDS Epidemiology Group said numbers were down among gay and bisexual men and heterosexuals.

It is the lowest total since 2002, with annual new diagnoses having reached about 180 in two years during the past decade.

Of those newly diagnosed last year, 59 were men infected through sex with other men, while 16 men and 12 women were infected through heterosexual contact, and one through injecting drug use.

The means of infection was unknown for 20 people, while one child born overseas in 2005 was diagnosed with HIV infection through mother-to-child transmission.

Group director, Otago University associate professor Nigel Dickson cautioned that the drop in diagnoses did not mean less risk for people having unprotected sex.

That would depend on the number of people with HIV in the population, particularly those who did not know they were infected, as well as how people behaved," he said.

A recent Auckland study had found about 20 per cent of a sample of gay and bisexual men with HIV were unaware of their HIV status.

Also, a drop in the actual infection rate on the basis of one year’s figures could not be assumed.

The report said 24 people were notified with AIDS in 2011. Of those, 13 were men infected through sex with other men, six men and three women were infected through heterosexual contact, one through injecting drug use, and for one the means of transmission was unknown.

Seventeen had their AIDS diagnosis within three months of being diagnosed with HIV and so probably would not have had the opportunity for antiretroviral treatment to control progression of their HIV  infection.

That suggested even fewer people would be progressing to AIDS if more people were presenting for AIDS testing.

Of the 59 men diagnosed with HIV infection as a result of sex with other men, 44 were reported to have been infected in this country.

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