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Wednesday 14 April 2010

Drop in new HIV diagnoses in 2009

Posted in: New Zealand Daily News, HIV
By Daily News Staff - 27th March 2010

While there was a drop in the number of HIV diagnoses in 2009, it is too soon to say if there is a downward trend according to the data compilers.

An artist's representation of the HIV virus
In the 65th issue of its report AIDS in New Zealand, Otago University's AIDS Epidemiology Group says 151 people were diagnosed with HIV through antibody testing in New Zealand last year. That's a drop from the 184 new cases reported in 2008.

The researchers say this indicates there has been no continuation of the increase in annual HIV diagnoses seen in the previous ten years.

"While the number is somewhat less than 2008, it is too soon to say whether we are experiencing a definite downward trend in diagnoses."

Of the new cases, 73 were men infected through sex with men (MSM), down from the record 98 cases in 2008 but similar to 2007 and 2006 figures.

The report says 43 of the new MSM diagnoses were European men, eight Asian, six Maori, four Pacific and 12 unknown or other ethnicities. Almost half were living in Auckland, while 20 percent were living in Wellington. The average age was 37, while two of those newly diagnosed were aged between 15 and 19.

A total of 28 HIV positive people were notified as having progressed to AIDS in 2009; 23 men and five women. Fifteen were men who were infected with HIV through sex with other men.

Eighteen of all those notified received their diagnoses within three months of being diagnosed with HIV - and researchers say therefore probably would not have had the opportunity for antiretroviral treatment to control the progression of their HIV infections.

"This suggests there would be even fewer people progressing to AIDS if there was more HIV testing."

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