Sunday, May 26, 2024

Plan to eliminate HIV transmission published

Manatū Hauora has published the HIV Action Plan which outlines a path to eliminate local transmission of HIV by 2030 and ensure people living with HIV have healthy lives free from stigma and discrimination.

The Ministry says HIV is a preventable infection and Aotearoa New Zealand is in a strong position to eliminate HIV transmission for future generations.

“Those living with HIV in Aotearoa New Zealand now have access to effective medicines and health care, which can suppress the virus to the point it is undetectable and cannot be transmitted. People who are HIV negative but at risk of infection can take a daily medication to protect themselves (Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis (PrEP)),” it said in a statement.

“However, people living with HIV still face challenges in addressing stigma and discrimination in health care. Caring for people with HIV using modern treatments, ensuring patient-centred services and increasing awareness about suppression of transmission are important ways to support people living with HIV to enjoy full, meaningful lives. “

At the end of 2020, 2,828 adults and 11 children in New Zealand were living with HIV and receiving anti-retroviral treatment.

“To achieve the vision of the HIV Action Plan by 2030, we need to reduce the number of new and locally acquired HIV infections, improve Māori health and wellbeing in relation to HIV, decrease mortality, and remove stigma for people living with HIV.”

Actions in the Plan are organised into four focus areas:

  • surveillance, information and knowledge systems;
  • combination of prevention and health promotion;
  • testing and linkage to care;
  • support for people living with HIV, including addressing stigma and discrimination.  

The HIV Action Plan was developed with input from community organisations, people living with HIV, health professionals and researchers.

“We acknowledge and thank all those who contributed their time and expertise,” the Ministry said.

In Budget 22, $18 million was allocated for the first four years to implement the HIV Action Plan. This funding is in addition to the existing $5 million spent on HIV prevention and surveillance annually. 

Implementing the HIV Action Plan, including commissioning of Budget 22 initiatives, will be led Te Whatu Ora (Health New Zealand) and Te Aka Whai Ora (the Māori Health Authority), supported by the Public Health Agency | Te Pou Hauora Tūmatanui.

The HIV Action Plan is supported by the Sexually Transmitted and Blood Borne Infections Strategy, which was published yesterday.

This is the first combined strategy for sexually transmitted and blood borne infections such as Syphilis, Gonorrhoea, Chlamydia, human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) and acquired immune deficiency syndrome (AIDS), human papilloma virus (HPV), Hepatitis C and Hepatitis B.

These infections are all preventable and can be treated or managed, but many are asymptomatic and can remain undiagnosed until complications arise, the Ministry of Health said.

“Aotearoa New Zealand’s rates of sexually transmitted infections remain high and there are inequities in health outcomes particularly for Māori, Pacific peoples, young people, men who have sex with men (MSM), migrants and people who inject drugs,” it said.

The Strategy is designed to improve collaboration, support collective action and set a unified strategic direction across the health sector in response to these infections. It aims to achieve a reduction in infection rates and get better outcomes for people living with sexually transmitted and blood borne infections.

The Strategy sits across and supports the delivery of the HIV Action Plan, Hepatitis C Action Plan and National Syphilis Action Plan, to eliminate the transmission of these infections by 2030.

You can read the official publication of the National HIV Action Plan for Aotearoa New Zealand 2023-2030 on the Manatū Hauora website. The STBBI Strategy publication is also accessible online.

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