Up to 500 people in New Zealand could have HIV and not know it - AIDS Foundation

  • 18/09/2018
A blue pill that says PrEP.  PrEP drugs can help prevent HIV.
PrEP drugs can help prevent HIV. Photo credit: Getty

The New Zealand AIDS Foundation is pleading for people to get regular HIV tests.

Its calls coincide with a survey it conducted that revealed as many as 500 people could be living with HIV, and have no idea.

The survey found one in four sexually active men who have sex with men in New Zealand may have never had an HIV test.

"This is extremely concerning, as the bulk of new transmissions come from people who either don't know they are living with the virus, or aren't on treatment," AIDS Foundation executive director Jason Myers said in a statement.

He told Newshub it's important to be tested at least twice a year, or more often if you are at higher risk.

"Individuals who may be at higher risk of HIV because of rapid partner change or because they're struggling with consistent condom use, we say that up to four times a year is an appropriate number of tests," he said.

Mr Myers said the bulk of transmissions are from people who don't they have it, or aren't being treated.

The most popular reasons for people not testing for HIV are:

  • Being worried about what a positive result would mean
  • Incorrectly assuming an HIV infection would present symptoms
  • Misinterpreting HIV symptoms as a cold or flu
  • Not understanding the risk level of certain behaviours

The Aids Foundation said its important HIV is caught early as it is at highest risk of being passed on just after recent infection, and early detection means treatment can begin faster and improve long term health.


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