There are around 3500 people living with HIV in New Zealand, but estimates show that over 500 don’t know it.
A 2018 survey by the New Zealand AIDS Foundation found that 1 in 4 sexually active men who have sex with men (MSM) in New Zealand have never had an HIV test.
"This is extremely concerning, as the bulk of new transmissions come from people who either don’t know they are living with the virus, or aren’t on treatment," says Dr Jason Myers, NZAF’s Executive Director.
Common reasons people don’t test are:
*being worried about what a positive result would mean.
*incorrectly assuming that HIV infection is always symptomatic
*misinterpreting symptoms as a cold or ‘flu
*not understanding the risk level of certain behaviours
The amount of HIV in the body is at its highest in the period just after recent infection, so this is when the virus is most likely to pass on to sexual partners.
"This means that testing regularly, as part of a healthy sex life is important both for yourself and for your partners," says Dr Myers.
Frequent testing also means that if someone acquires HIV, they’ll be able to access treatment more quickly, which is best for long-term health.
All sexually active men who have sex with men should be testing for HIV at least twice a year, or four times a year if condoms aren’t used consistently for anal sex.