AUKLAND, February 22, 2008 – Adding HIV to the Ministry of Health’s list
of notifiable conditions will help create an “HIV census”, ensuring that
anonymous data collection on New Zealand’s HIV and AIDS epidemic is secured
for the future, says the New Zealand AIDS Foundation (NZAF).
NZAF is supporting moves in the forthcoming Public Health Bill to make HIV a
“notifiable” condition, providing the current anonymous coding system is
retained. AIDS has already been a notifiable condition since 1985 with no
breaches of confidentiality.
“AIDS represents the end result of HIV infection, and with the effectiveness
of new treatments for HIV, information on AIDS notifications are
increasingly less useful as a tool for tracking the spread of the epidemic,”
says Rachael Le Mesurier,
Executive Director of the New Zealand AIDS Foundation.
New HIV diagnosis information is currently sent by GPs, sexual health
clinics and NZAF centres to the AIDS Epidemiology Group at
University, who collate the six-monthly AIDS New Zealand reports.
This system has been working very well since 1985 and has been entirely
voluntary. Nearly 2,500 New Zealanders with HIV have given their permission
for data on their diagnosis to be collected and published in AIDS New
“The AIDS Epidemiology Group currently receives information on over 95% of
HIV diagnoses, but there is no legal requirement for this data to be
collected,” Ms. Le Mesurier says.
“With the many demands placed on our health services, and the good news that
treatments have drastically reduced AIDS deaths, we need to ensure that HIV
is given the priority treatment it deserves by making the anonymous data
collected secure for the future.”
NZAF is keen to point out that this data collection system has not and would
not involve identification of HIV positive people.
“This is about collecting the ‘what’, ‘where’ and ‘how’ of new HIV
infections, not the ‘who’,” Ms. Le Mesurier explains. “The confidentiality
of HIV positive New Zealanders must be protected.
“However, we need reliable data to map the changes in the HIV epidemic,”
“For example, treatment-related deaths are a new complication that can only
be monitored by analysing HIV diagnoses, rather than AIDS.”
The Public Health Bill is currently before the Health Select Committee. The
closing date for submissions is Friday March 7, 2008.
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Creative Commons Licence.
Posted: 22 February 2008 at
00:00 (UK time)