New Zealand sees drop in people diagnosed with HIV

The number of people diagnosed with HIV in New Zealand has significantly dropped, according to the AIDS Epidemiology Group of Otago University. 

It has been the first time the number has decreased since 2011.

Last year, 197 people were diagnosed, a drop of 46 compared to 2016 when 243 people were diagnosed with HIV. 

Dr Sue McAllister said despite the drop being encouraging, it was too early to determine whether the decline would be maintained.

She said changes to HIV management could have contributed to the drop, as diagnosed individuals were now able to begin treatment immediately, and Pre-exposure Prophylaxis was introduced to prevent infection for those who are high risk. 

"These new measures, along with use of condoms, regular and early HIV testing and screening and treatment for other sexually transmitted infections all need to be utilised in order to see a continued decline," Dr McAllister said. 

The HIV prevention drug Truvada will now be publicly funded. Source: 1 NEWS

Associate Minister of Health Julie Anne Genter said the HIV Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis treatment started to be funded by PHARMAC in March and about 4,000 people could meet the criteria for the treatment each year. 

"Hopefully, these new measures, in addition to existing prevention methods, will help to ensure the numbers of people diagnosed with HIV in New Zealand continues to drop in coming years," Ms Genter said. 

Executive director Dr Jason Myers from New Zealand AIDS Foundation said the decrease was "wonderful news", but funding was needed to monitor attitudes and behaviours so health workers could determine factors that contribute to the decrease. 

"One data point is not a trend. We saw a similar drop from 2010 to 2011, and infection rates consistently rose from then until 2016. We need to see a steady consistent decrease over the next few years before we can confidently say we are on the right track."

He said New Zealand had ongoing surveys that monitored attitudes and behaviours of gay and bisexual men had not been funded since 2014. 

"Understanding changes in knowledge and behaviour since the introduction of treatment based prevention tools is critical if we are to ensure the most appropriate targeting of our behaviour change messaging," Dr Myers said. 

Last year 197 Kiwis were infected by the disease, but experts say it's too early to know whether the reduction will be maintained. Source: 1 NEWS

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NZ shares face hefty losses as US stock market drops further

New Zealand shares are facing a second day of hefty losses after the Wall Street dropped again overnight.

Despite the drop, Wall Street losses have been less severe than the brutal sell-off in the previous session.

The New Zealand benchmark top-50 index has fallen 82 points or nearly 1 per cent in early trading.

The fall follows a second day of losses on Wall Street, when US share markets suffered their sharpest one day fall in months on Wednesday. The New Zealand stock exchange followed the US and Asian markets down, with the NZX Top 50 last night closing 3.6 per cent lower - its fifth largest loss.

The US stock market is reacting to the impact of trade tensions on corporate profits, Treasury yields at multi-year highs and, more recently, Hurricane Michael making landfall in Florida.

Energy and health stocks led the decline of nine of the S&P major sectors, while technology companies managed to post slight gains.

While stocks had coped well with rising trade tensions between the US and China over the past few months, the sharp rise in bond yields earlier this month, accompanied by hawkish comments from Federal Reserve officials, proved to be a tipping point that triggered the sell-off on Wall Street.

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For more on this story, watch 1 NEWS at 6pm. Source: 1 NEWS

Still, the high-growth technology sector was up 0.4 percent, coming off a 4.8 percent slide on Wednesday. Gains were led by Microsoft, up 1.9 percent.

"The growth stocks, which are the path leaders, typically bounce from the bottom first," said Tom Plumb, portfolio manager of the Plumb Balanced Fund in Wisconsin.

Energy stocks fell 1.77 per cent as oil prices hit two-week lows after an industry report showed U.S. crude inventories rose more than expected.

Foreign exchange specialist Derek Rankin told Morning Report it was possible traders were taking profits early amid uncertainty ahead of the US mid-term elections in three weeks.

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Heavy snow set to hit parts of South Island, severe winds forecast for central New Zealand

A cold southerly flow is hitting Canterbury and Marlborough with heavy snow warnings in place, with powerful winds set to hit Wellington, Wairarapa and Auckland today.

MetService says a trough of low pressure in moving east across central and northern New Zealand, spreading a strong cold southerly flow across the country.

Snow is expected to low levels over many parts of central and southern New Zealand, and severe gale southerlies for parts of central New Zealand.

In Marlborough, the snow is expected to accumulate above 500 metres, with lesser amounts down to about 300 metres. The snow is likely to ease gradually through the day.

Strong wind gusts are expected to arrive in Taranaki around 5:00pm and last until tomorrow afternoon.

While in the Kaikoura Coast, Marlborough Sounds and Wellington severe southerly gales are forecast until 11:00pm today.

Periods of rain and showers are expected in Auckland today and tomorrow. The winds are expected to turn strong southerly early tomorrow, then ease out in the evening, and gradually dye out on Sunday.

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Fatal crash on State Highway One, near Puhoi north of Auckland, blocks road

State Highway One near Puhoi, north of Auckland, is blocked after a fatal crash involving a truck and a car.

Emergency services were called to the crash involving one truck and two vehicles at approximately 10.06am this morning near Mahurangi West Road.

Police say one person has died at the scene and three other people have been injured, two seriously.

State Highway One is completely blocked and diversions are being put in place at Warkworth and Silverdale.

Motorists are advised to avoid the area if possible or to use State Highway 16.


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Police car generic. Source: 1 NEWS


Interisland ferry sailings cancelled due to big swells and wind

The Interislander and Bluebridge ferries have both cancelled sailings today due to strong southerly winds and big swells.

Bluebridge Cook Strait Ferries wrote on their Facebook page that the forecast poor weather has arrived.

"We've cancelled our passenger sailings this afternoon and this evening," they said.

Interislander information available online showed that seven sailings between the Kaiarahi, the Aratere and the Kaitaki ferries had been cancelled today.

Affected travellers should visit the websites of either Bluebridge or Interislander for information.

MetService reports that the southerly wind in Wellington is averaging about 43km/h and gusts of up to 120km/h are expected in exposed places for the rest of the day.

A Severe Weather Warning is in place for the region, as well as for Marlborough.

Cook Strait ferries cross paths.
Cook Strait ferries cross paths. Source: 1 NEWS