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CDC HIV/AIDS/Viral Hepatitis/STD/TB Prevention News Update
NEW ZEALAND: Ignorance of Infection Dents New Zealand Standing in HIV Control

February 2, 2012
Xinhua News Agency (02.02.12) - Thursday, February 02, 2012

In a recent study, one in five HIV-positive gay and bisexual men in New Zealand did not know they were infected. According to the authors, their 2011 research presents the first estimate of actual and undiagnosed HIV infection among a community sample of New Zealand men who have sex with men. Of 1,049 MSM tested, 67 had HIV (6.5 percent)- including 14 (20.9 percent) who had no idea, the study found. New Zealand saw a record 95 new HIV diagnoses among MSM in 2010, continuing an upward trend noted since 2003.

"The existence of people with undiagnosed HIV infection must be taken seriously if we're going to bring HIV under better control," said Dr. Peter Saxton, lead study author with the University of Otago's Department of Preventive and Social Medicine. "A person with undiagnosed HIV cannot tell someone they're infected and might not initiate safe sex." Most of those unknowingly infected had believed they did not have HIV, and many had previously been tested for the virus.

"The practical reality of this is that everyone, especially gay men, needs to become better educated, supported, and proficient at safe sex to control HIV and other [STDs]," Saxton said. "Individuals with HIV who remain undiagnosed delay treatments that can improve their quality of life and life expectancy" and reduce their infectiousness to others, he said. "New Zealand has one of the best records of HIV control internationally, and we need to keep it that way by encouraging condom use and earlier diagnosis among those most at risk." Previously, one in 20 gay and bisexual men in Auckland were thought to have HIV, said Shaun Robinson, executive director of the New Zealand AIDS Foundation. The new study suggests that figure is now one in 15, Robinson said.

To access the study, visit: http://dnmeds.otago.ac.nz/departments/psm/research/aids/pdf/Ac tual_and_Undiagnosed_HIV%20.pdf.

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