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

One person dead after car collides with truck on SH1 in Northland

One person has died after a car and truck crashed on State Highway 1 in Northland.

Emergency services were called to the scene near Waipu shortly before 9am today.

Southbound traffic has been diverted through Nova Scotia Drive and northbound traffic is being diverted through The Braigh.

The Serious Crash Unit and the Commercial Vehicle Safety Team have been advised following the incident.

Police will remain at the scene of the crash and diversions are expected to be in place for some time. 

Motorists have been advised to avoid the area if possible and to take care on the roads due to the inclement weather conditions.

A road closure sign in front of a Police vehicle
A road closure sign in front of a Police vehicle. Source: 1 NEWS


'There was sewage everywhere' - Overflow destroys Auckland family's renovated home

A Givealittle page has been set up to help an Auckland family whose home was destroyed by a sewage overflow last week.

The Bigwood family had their "whole lives" in two skips on their driveway after finding overflow in their home.

Arlene Beall, a friend of the family, set up the page.

Ms Beall wrote "there was sewage everywhere" after "an underground sewage pipe located in the Bigwoods back yard, which was a collection point for all the sewage in their subdivision exploded" last Monday morning.

"Mum Michelle arrived home after dropping her kids off at school to see her driveway wet, opened her front door and was knocked out by the smell," she wrote.

"Because sewage is highly toxic bio hazardous material they lost all their photos, their clothing, and to add to their heartbreak items Michelle's mother (who is now deceased) had made for their kids prior to her passing."

To make things even worse, the Bigwood family had recently extended their mortgage to pay for renovations which were completed the day before the overflow.

"Now their entire life sits in two massive skips in their front yard. They cannot even go in their front door," Bealle wrote.

According the page, the Bigwood family’s insurance covers "nowhere near enough" for the family of five to rebuild.

Watercare told the Rodney Times they had received a call on June 11 regarding an overflow.

Watercare stakeholder media liaison advisor Maxine Clayton said contractors had discovered "some form of debris" had caused a major obstruction.

They had cleaned outside the house and said the Bigwood family should contact their insurance company about the damage inside.

Incidents of this kind happen roughly every two weeks in the Auckland region, Clayton told the Rodney Times.

She said they are usually the result of gully traps that take in wastewater before it goes through to the main sewerage line.

A photo of the Bigwood family in front of their ruined home. Source: Give A Little