The new ‘Ending HIV’ campaign couldn’t have come at a better time! We are at the point where the number of newly-diagnosed HIV infections per year is sitting at its highest level it’s been since the beginning of the then-fatal epidemic thirty years ago. Most HIV infections throughout New Zealand are contracted by gay and bisexual men – of which research suggests that one in 15 gay and/or bi male who live in Auckland are living with HIV, and out of these, one in five don’t even realise they have it. New Zealand AIDS Foundation (NZAF) continues:
‘Ending HIV’ offers a combination of tools to prevent HIV transmissions. It has a goal of ending new HIV transmission by 2025. “If we embrace every possible way of preventing HIV transmission, together we can end the transmission of HIV in New Zealand. This is an ambitious goal, but we’re confident that this is achievable,” says Jason Myers, executive director of NZAF.
“Condoms are more important than ever – they are the easiest way to protect against HIV and other STIs during sex. HIV is most dangerous when you don’t know it’s there – so getting tested at least twice a year is a must for gay and bi men, more often if they are not playing safe” says Mr. Myers. “If you do test positive for HIV, the new medications available are very effective, easy to take and have few side effects. HIV is not a death sentence, it’s a serious but manageable, life-long health condition.”
If rates of condom use are maintained, Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis (PrEP) is made available to those who need it, undiagnosed HIV infection is addressed through increased testing and those who’re diagnosed with HIV are provided immediate treatment, the goal of reaching virtually zero new infections would be achieved. “Now is the time for all of us to take action to contribute to HIV prevention efforts through pledging support and educating each other about HIV prevention. Imagine a future where there are no new transmissions of HIV – what a gift that would be to the next generation,” says Myers.