Increase in HIV diagnoses among men who have sex with men in New Zealand from a stable low period

Published: November 3, 2010


Objectives: To describe trends in HIV diagnoses among men who have sex with men (MSM) in New Zealand 1996-2008, and to identify characteristics associated with HIV diagnoses in the resurgent phase. Methods: Data collected through routine enhanced surveillance of HIV infection where the likely mode of transmission included homosexual contact were analysed over the period 1996-2008. Results: Annual HIV diagnoses were very low during the period 1996-2000, rose sharply between 2001-2005, and remained at an elevated plateau between 2006-2008. Over a quarter were attributed to HIV infection acquired overseas (28.6%). Trends in diagnoses of locally-acquired HIV infection closely mirrored the overall trend of three diagnosis phases. Increases in locally-acquired HIV over time occurred among virtually all characteristics of MSM measured by the surveillance system. However, compared to MSM diagnosed in the low phase 1996-2000, individuals diagnosed in the resurgent phase 2001-2005 were proportionately more likely to be aged 30-39, to have tested HIV negative within the previous two years, to live in the Northern region encompassing Auckland, and to be of non-European ethnicity. The per capita HIV diagnosis rate among MSM was lowest in 1997 at 22.0 per million males aged 15-64 and highest in 2005 at 66.7 per million. Conclusion: The increase in HIV diagnoses among MSM in New Zealand was primarily due to an increase in locally-acquired HIV infection, which disproportionately affected some groups of MSM. Factors driving this change in local epidemic conditions need to be identified. The rate of new HIV diagnoses among MSM remains low by international standards.

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