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Wednesday 14 April 2010

HIV prevention and support services to be reviewed

Posted in: New Zealand Daily News, HIV
By Daily News staff - 16th February 2010

The provision of New Zealand's HIV support services and prevention programmes is coming under the microscope with the commissioning of a report by the Ministry of Health to guide future spending.

The Ministry has commissioned the HIV Service Review, with findings due to be made public in April.

The overall aim, says a spokesperson for the Ministry, is "to ensure that current and future investment contributes towards improving service coverage for people who are HIV-positive and that those services are effective and cost-efficient."

While the Ministry says the aim of the review is not to reduce or re-direct funding, it also says it "is about informing future decisions in regards to future investment in this area to ensure that funding contributes towards improving service coverage for people who are HIV-positive and that those services are effective and cost-efficient."
The Ministry has not specifically addressed its objectives in reviewing prevention programmes.

The review will be conducted by Dr David Miller, a NZ-trained clinical psychologist with experience of HIV/AIDS and sexual health programmes overseas and who has worked for the World Health Organisation and UNAIDS. It will include the work of the New Zealand AIDS Foundation and Body Positive Auckland and other smaller service providers. Sexual health services in Auckland, Waikato, Capital and Coast and Canterbury will also be participating.

The Ministry says Dr Miller will be obtaining feedback through focus groups from 'HIV-positive people who are accessing/receiving services' who will be encouraged through the service providers to participate. "He recognises the limitations of this method, but the privacy of individuals needs to be respected," a Ministry spokesperson says.

The NZ AIDS Foundation and Body Positive, the main service providers to gay and bi men, who make up the vast majority of people contracting and living with the virus, both say they welcome the review. The Foundation says it believes its work will stand up to scrutiny. Body Positive says it hopes the range of services it funds and provides, such as counselling and treatments to mediate the disfiguring effects of facial hollowing evident in many people with HIV, will at last be recognised "and perhaps become funded by the Ministry."

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