46 percent of Kiwis don't want their kids playing with someone with living with HIV

New statistics released by the New Zealand Aids Foundation (NZAF) and Positive Women have shown a large amount of Kiwis uncomfortable with their children playing with somebody living with HIV.

Forty-six percent would be uncomfortable with letting their children play with an HIV-infected person, 88 percent of Kiwis would be uncomfortable with having a sexual relationship with somebody living with HIV, and 38 percent would be uncomfortable having a flatmate living with HIV.

The NZAF said in a statement the figures were "disheartening", especially the stigma around sex and relationships.

"[People living with HIV] are often already internalising a lot of stigma around sex and relationships which can result in feeling isolated and like they aren't able to love," it said.

"So the percentage of Kiwi discomfort is heartbreaking to read."

A bar graph showing the percentages of people who don't want their children playing with people living with HIV (46pct), people who don't want a sexual relationship with somebody living with HIV (88pct) and people who do not want a flatmate who is living with HIV (38pct)
Photo credit: Newshub.

Regarding the statistics about children and flatmates interacting with people living with HIV, the NZAF says it's unlikely transmission would occur in most situations.

HIV cannot be transmitted via saliva, skin to skin contact or kissing, and transmissions between wounds are extremely unlikely.

"Both parties would need to be bleeding profusely for transmission to occur - a very unlikely playtime occurrence," the NZAF said.

The transmission of HIV when having sex with somebody living with the virus can be avoided through the use of condoms or pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) medication.

Further to that, somebody who is receiving treatment for HIV and achieves an undetectable viral load (very low viral count in their blood) for more than six months would have almost no risk of HIV transmission during condomless sex.

NZAF says it needs the help of all New Zealanders to combat the stigma around HIV, as it can stop people from combatting the virus.

"Stigma is a major barrier to seeking treatment, testing and support services which has negative health outcomes for PLHIV and can contribute to transmission rates," it said.

"With the help of the public, HIV transmission in New Zealand could end by 2025, closing this chapter of the epidemic."