2017 HIV Epidemiology Statistics for New Zealand | Body Positive News

2017 HIV Epidemiology Statistics for New Zealand

Body Positive is celebrating the drop in HIV Diagnosis in New Zealand going from 243 in 2016 to 197 in 2017. A 20% drop in transmission is something to celebrate.

In 2017 we joined the international community promoting the fact that if someone is adherent to their medication and can maintain an undetectable virus they live a healthy life and cannot pass on HIV to their sexual partners.

With HIV becoming a notifiable disease in January 2017 this enabled everyone to access care and treatment regardless of residency. In addition the CD4 threshold to access treatment was removed meaning that people could now access treatment on the day of diagnosis as recommended by the WHO treatment guidelines.

People didn’t have to wait to be sick or be denied access due to their residency. We now had universal access to care for all people living with HIV. People are enabled to take control of their health and cannot pass on HIV to their sexual partners.

Our new peer support program is designed to work directly with people that are newly diagnosed and has been operating for two years to support people with their diagnosis and care. This program connects people into other social support services so that these don’t impact their engagement with care such as counselling, addiction and housing services. It’s important that people take their medication every day without these other burdens distracting them and this program has had great success in supporting people and re-engaging people that have fallen through the cracks of the health system.

We are now providing the support to people living with HIV which is respectful and empowering and long overdue. The reduction in infection is inspiring and replicates what is happening around the world. With the introduction of PrEP in March 2018 (a daily pill that prevents acquiring HIV) for those that are most at risk of acquiring HIV we should see further reductions in transmission in the future.

89% or 71 locally acquired new diagnoses were amongst men who have sex with men with 38 of these being recent infections. This highlights how well HIV is being managed in New Zealand. While we will never end new diagnosis due to late diagnosis and immigration we are well on our way to reducing the number of local infections.

It’s important that people test regularly if they are at risk. Start treatment immediately to become undetectable and live healthy, sexy lives free of stigma!