New Zealand has reported a drop in the number of people diagnosed with HIV, after increases for the previous five years through the Associated Health Minister, Julie Anne Genter.
Genter said in a statement that almost 50 fewer people were diagnosed than the previous year and the fewest since 2013 in the country.
Results released by the AIDS Epidemiology Group, based at the University of Otago, and funded by the Ministry of Health, on Wednesday showed the number of people diagnosed with HIV in 2017 was 197.
“The government is committed to reducing HIV rates in New Zealand and reducing the stigma associated with HIV,’’ she said.
She added that HIV-infected individuals were now, being able to start treatment immediately upon diagnosis.
The New Zealand Pharmaceutical Management Agency (PHARMAC), in March started funding HIV Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis (PrEP), a daily medication taken to reduce the risk of becoming infected with HIV and people, who are at high risk of contracting HIV infection.
It is expected that approximately 4,000 people will meet the criteria for this treatment annually.
“Hopefully, these new measures, in addition to existing prevention methods, will help to ensure the number of people diagnosed with HIV in New Zealand continues to drop in coming years.
“However, other serious sexually-transmitted infections (STI), such as syphilis and gonorrhoea, have continued to rise.
“The presence of an STI increases the risk of HIV transmission,’’ she said.