Number of New HIV Cases in New Zealand Declines in 2007
The number of new HIV cases in New Zealand has declined since 2006, according to a report released Monday, NZPA/New Zealand Herald reports. The report -- released by the AIDS Epidemiology Group at the University of Otago in Dunedin, New Zealand -- found that there were 156 new HIV diagnoses recorded last year, compared with 183 in 2006. The figures also showed that HIV cases among heterosexual men and women declined from 85 in 2006 to 60 in 2007.
New Zealand AIDS Foundation Executive Director Eamonn Smythe said that although the findings are "encouraging," he had hoped to see a decrease in the number of cases among men who have sex with men. Diagnoses within this group "reached a peak in 2005 and came down in 2006," he said, adding, "Although we are pleased there has not been an increase, it is unfortunate that we have not seen a further reduction this year. These numbers are still equivalent to one new diagnosis every five days."
Smythe said that trends over the last two decades indicate that most heterosexual HIV cases in New Zealand are spreading from people who contracted the virus overseas in countries with high HIV prevalence. "HIV is at very high levels in some parts of the world, so this is a timely reminder for New Zealanders traveling overseas to remember to use condoms," Smythe said. The report also highlighted the need for increased HIV testing. The findings showed that 340 of about 1,500 HIV-positive people in New Zealand were unaware of their status. "We recommend that if you've been having unprotected sex, you should have yourself screened for HIV," Smythe said (NZPA/New Zealand Herald, 3/17).