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Saturday 10 October 2015

Health Minister happy with NZ's HIV action

Posted in: New Zealand Daily News
By Daily News staff - 7th October 2015

Jonathan Coleman
The Health Minister says New Zealand has a good record in taking effective action against HIV/AIDS.

Dr Jonathan Coleman has responded to a piece on from a leading HIV researcher, Dr Peter Saxton from Auckland University’s Gay Men’s Sexual Health research group, who believes there are things which can be done to dramatically alter the trajectory of the epidemic among gay and bi men.

Dr Saxton believes the way forward is adding enhanced testing, immediate treatment and targeted use of PrEP, to condom use.

He says Government leadership is needed more than ever to remove red-tape so new initiatives can be rolled out.

The Health Minister says New Zealand has one of world’s lowest prevalence of HIV as a result of a culture of safe sex and condom use.

“The number of new infections each year is low, though like other countries, the number is rising,” Dr Coleman says.

He says the Ministry contracts a range of effective HIV and AIDS related services, including the New Zealand AIDS Foundation, who provide an integrated prevention activity focused on promoting condom use and HIV testing.

“The AIDS Foundation is enhancing its prevention and community outreach activities to respond to the recently reported increase in cases,” Dr Coleman says.

“There is the ongoing promotion of safe sex and the use of condoms through sexual health clinics and by the AIDS Foundation.”

The Health Minister says rapid testing is available through the AIDS Foundation and sexual health providers which means that counselling is available when test results are received.

He says any move to home testing would mean a gap between results and counselling – an option which is not widely supported and would need careful consideration.

“Individual DHBs are responsible for STI testing and they routinely review their services to ensure they are up to the mark.

“PHARMAC funds 21 treatments that can be used for HIV infection. It has not received an application for funding of anti-retrovirals for pre-exposure prophylaxis.”

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