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No room for complacency on HIV

18 September 2018

Posted in: Pacific Radio News,

By Lisa Williams-Lahari -

A new survey on people living with HIV in New Zealand estimates more than 500 Kiwis have no idea they have the virus because they have never had an HIV test despite sexual activity, which increases their risk.

Photo/ Māori Television.

The New Zealand AIDS Foundation findings are sparking worries over new transmissions caused by those who don't realize they are passing on the virus.

The foundation's director Dr Jason Myers says Pacific numbers are on the low side - only seven of the New Zealand's gay or bisexual men diagnosed with HIV  are Pacific, and there are no Pacific people amongst the 24 heterosexual cases of those with HIV in New Zealand.

But he says it's really because many sexually active Pacific people aren't accessing regular testing for HIV and other sexually transmitted infections to start with, and that needs to change.

"It is possible that people from communities who are traditionally less well-served by health services, such as Maori and Pacific, are not actually accessing testing services and therefore not being diagnosed," he says.

Issues around culture, religion and social norms setting sexual norms and taboos can put people off being tested - a standard that needs to be normalised in order to save lives, says Dr Myers.

"The message we are sending for anyone who thinks they may have been at risk or in contact with HIV is, it's a great idea to get tested."

Tags: health,