Press Release – AIDS Foundation
MEDIA RELEASE: EMBARGOED UNTIL 3PM THUR, 2 FEB 2012 New Study Shows 1 in 5 with Hiv Don’t Know It On the eve of the Get it On! Big Gay Out, a ground-breaking study has revealed that 1 in 5 gay and bisexual men with HIV in Auckland don’t know they …MEDIA RELEASE: EMBARGOED UNTIL 3PM THUR, 2 FEB 2012
New Study Shows 1 in 5 with Hiv Don’t Know It
On the eve of the Get it On! Big Gay Out, a ground-breaking study has revealed that 1 in 5 gay and bisexual men with HIV in Auckland don’t know they have it. The study is the first time that a measure of undiagnosed HIV has been recorded in New Zealand.
The research also confirms that the incidence of HIV in general has increased. Shaun Robinson, Executive Director of the New Zealand AIDS Foundation (NZAF) says, “Prior to this study we were working on figures which told us that overall, 1 in 20 gay and bisexual men in Auckland had HIV. These new findings tell us this figure has now dramatically increased to 1 in 15. This puts Auckland on par with some of the major European cities such as Paris.”
Of the men with undiagnosed HIV, more than half had previously tested negative for HIV in the last twelve months, suggesting that their date of transmission was recent. Robinson says, “While testing regularly is clearly important, testing alone is not stopping this epidemic from spreading. Using condoms and lube every time you have sex remains the only way to protect yourself from HIV.”
The research also revealed that the majority of the men with undiagnosed HIV believed that they were HIV negative. Robinson adds, “If you don’t know you have HIV, your partner won’t either. Many people are more likely to assume a negative HIV status in their sexual partners and this could influence a decision to have unsafe sex. People could be placing themselves at extreme risk without realising it.”
These new findings follow recent figures which showed that 2010 was the worst year on record for HIV among gay and bisexual men, with an unprecedented 95 new diagnoses, continuing a trend of increased numbers since 2003. “Tougher, smarter HIV prevention initiatives are needed now more than ever before,” Robinson says.
The study was conducted by the AIDS Epidemiology Group at the University of Otago in February 2011 and recruited 1049 gay and bisexual men from Auckland who completed an anonymous behaviour-based questionnaire and provided an anonymous saliva sample. The two were very carefully linked via a unique code. The study received ethics approval from the Northern X Regional Ethics Committee and was funded by the Health Research Council.
Notes to journalists:
The study findings are available free online from the journal BMC Public Health http://www.biomedcentral.com/bmcpublichealth/