Shaun Robinson, NZAF, response to the latest HIV statistics.

Does this mean that the New Zealand AIDS Foundations prevention programme is not working? I don’t think so.

Let’s keep this in perspective, for a start New Zealand has achieved one of the lowest rates of HIV in the world at 6.5% for gay and bisexual men. This is considerably lower than in countries which have moved away from condom promotion and put a lot of emphasis on treatment as prevention and PrEP e.g. Australia 14%, San Francisco 24% and London close to 20%. It is the condom culture that had created this low prevalence in New Zealand and this makes this country one of the safest places for gay and bisexual men to have sex because your chances of unknowingly having sex with someone with HIV are half that of Australia for example.

There are considerable pressures pushing the number of HIV diagnoses up, slowly rising numbers of people living with HIV, a sense that HIV is not a big deal, increased testing which uncovers HIV contracted years ago … are just a few. We need everything at our disposal to combat the epidemic.

But we need to be very careful and strategic about how the various prevention tools are used.