Epidata Announcement 210507

Lowest Number of People Diagnosed with HIV in NZ Since Early 2000s

Epidata Announcement 210507

Lowest Number of People Diagnosed with HIV in NZ Since Early 2000s

The latest data from the AIDS Epidemiology Group, University of Otago shows a further decline in the number of locally acquired HIV infections in 2020.

Though we are uncertain about the impacts of COVID-19 for testing and sexual activity, it is encouraging to realise that 2020 saw the lowest number of people diagnosed with HIV in NZ since the early 2000s!

It means that here in Aotearoa, fewer transmissions of HIV are likely occurring, especially among our gay, bisexual and other men who have sex with men (MSM). 

Forty-nine MSM were thought to have acquired HIV in New Zealand in 2020. When compared to 97 in 2016, the year when the highest ever annual number of cases was recorded, we can see it has almost halved! 

This continued decline means that we’re getting something right, and the communities affected are working hard to reduce transmission. 

From this data, we can also see that some people, including among heterosexual folks, are being diagnosed late after infection, meaning that they may not receive treatment quickly. This is very concerning as it means poorer health outcomes for those who receive late diagnoses and allows for further transmissions to happen as people will be unaware of their status and not on treatment.

As we know, those who are on treatment and have an undetectable viral load (UVL) for more than six months can’t transmit HIV sexually (U=U).

A quick overview of the data shows infections among MSM are declining, heterosexual acquisition remains relatively low and stable, and perinatal and injecting drug use (IDU) transmissions remain extremely low (no local infections):

  • A total 162 HIV notifications (138 men & 24 women)
  • 95 of whom were first diagnosed in NZ, 61 were previously diagnosed overseas (remainder, as yet unknown)
  • 106 were MSM
  • 36 heterosexual infections
  • 1 IDU and 1 possible IDU or sexual transmission (both overseas)
  • 1 perinatal transmission (overseas) - Between 1998-2020, there have been 193 births to women known to have HIV prior to delivery in New Zealand. None of these children have been diagnosed with HIV.
  • 14 AIDS diagnoses and 2 AIDS deaths

To read the full breakdown of the epidemiological data for 2020, check out the epigroup’s latest newsletter.


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