The Government of New Zealand has released its plan to eliminate the transmission of HIV by 2032 and promote access to consultation free from stigma and discrimination.
The announcement came on 1 August, as the Government bankrolled $18 million budget bolstering key measures to achieve the objective; including increasing prevention and testing, improving access to care and treatment, and addressing stigma
“We have made excellent progress in reducing the transmission of HIV in New Zealand with the number diagnosed in 2021 the lowest since the 1990s”, said Associate Health Minister, Dr. Ayesha Verrall.
“New Zealand had the world’s first national publicly-funded needle and syringe programme to assist with the prevention of HIV, and we now also have one of the lowest rates in the world of HIV among people who inject drugs. Now we are setting out to be the first country to eliminate transmission.
“HIV prevention and HIV treatment are free in New Zealand to anyone who is eligible for publicly funded healthcare. This is definitely part of the success factor to date in reducing transmission.
“This decline in the number of people diagnosed with HIV, coupled with already having eliminated mother-to-child transmission of HIV in New Zealand, places us in a strong position to eliminate HIV transmission.”
Investments will be made over the course of four years, adding to the existing spending on HIV prevention and surveillance, as well as the specialist secondary workforce.
The draft HIV Action Plan provides a 10-year roadmap with five high-level goals:
- reduce the number of new locally acquired HIV infections;
- improve Māori health and wellbeing in relation to HIV through delivering on Te Tiriti o Waitangi [New Zealand’s foundation document] obligations;
- decrease mortality and the negative consequences of HIV on health and wellbeing;
- decrease experiences of stigma and discrimination for people living with HIV;
- increase equity in relation to all HIV goals and objectives.
Actions to achieve these goals include improving:
- surveillance, information, and knowledge systems;
- combination prevention and health promotion;
- testing and linkage to care; and;
- support for people living with HIV, including addressing stigma and discrimination.
The new HIV Action plan proposes actions to expand access to testing – greater access to sexual health and responsiveness for HIV in primary care, as well as home testing options.
As reported by New Zealand’s Ministry of Health, since national HIV surveillance was established in Aotearoa New Zealand in 1985, there have been 5,430 notifications of HIV and 757 AIDS-related deaths. There are currently 2,839 people receiving subsidised antiretroviral treatment for HIV.
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