HIV-Positive People in New Zealand Have High Condom Use Rates, Survey Says
The majority of HIV-positive people in New Zealand use condoms during "casual" sex, according to a survey released on Friday by Jeffrey Grierson at La Trobe University in Melbourne, Australia, the New Zealand Herald reports.
Grierson surveyed 261 of the estimated 1,500 HIV-positive people in the country last year, about half of whom reported having sex with casual partners six months prior to the study. According to the findings, 52 of the 59 people who reported not knowing the HIV status of their most recent casual sexual partner said they used condoms. Four of the six who said their most recent partner was HIV-positive reported using condoms, and all of the nine people who said their partner was HIV-negative said they used condoms, the Herald reports.
Grierson said, "Most people are using some form of protection when there's a possibility of transmission (of HIV), but there's a small number of cases where that's not happening." He said that people knowing their HIV status "is a big motivator for condom use." Grierson also noted that condom use among men who have sex with men has decreased overall, but remains high among HIV-positive MSM. According to the findings, 63% of MSM surveyed said it was legally OK for people to not tell their partners their HIV status if they used a condom during sex (Johnston, New Zealand Herald, 4/12).
The study, titled "HIV Futures NZ2," was conducted in conjunction with the New Zealand AIDS Foundation, Body Positive, Positive Women and several community organizations, according to a NZAF release. It was also funded by the New Zealand Ministry of Health. It is the second HIV Futures study on the topic since 2002.
Other findings from the study included:
- An increase in the use of antiretroviral treatment;
- An increase from 53% in 2001 to 62% last year in the proportion of survey participants in paid employment;
- A reduction in the problems with drug timing and those reporting difficulties using antiretrovirals; and
- A drop from 33% in 2001 to 19% last year among people reporting that their HIV status had been disclosed without their permission.
The report "documents the significant improvements in health and well-being from the original survey conducted six years ago," Grierson said. "However, there are still major challenges for people living with HIV that include maintaining a good level of health and participating fully in their communities," he noted, adding that the "report provides a critical opportunity to reflect on the response to HIV in New Zealand and to ensure future efforts benefit all people with HIV in this country."
NZAF National Positive Health Manager Eamonn Smythe, said, "It is heartening to know that the increase in availability of treatments for people with HIV has had such a positive result; however, it is clear that there are still several social issues related to an HIV diagnosis that still need to be addressed." Smythe added that NZAF "will take this opportunity to ensure services in the future for HIV-positive people are planned using relevant and up to date research" (NZAF release, 4/11).
The survey is available online. This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.