New Zealanders 'Treated Cruelly' for Having HIV

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By Reissa Su | November 29, 2013 1:02 PM EST

New Zealanders with HIV continue to face cruel treatment and social stigmas associated with the illness, according to the AIDS Foundation.

Since 2010, the number of HIV cases in New Zealand has declined. However, Kiwis living with HIV continue to be denied support from the service industry like haircuts or dentistry. New Zealand AIDS Foundation executive director Shaun Robinson said New Zealanders with HIV can be "treated very cruelly."

Mr Robinson said the stigma is being driven by others who do not understand what HIV patients go through. He said HIV is not acquired by shaking hands, kissing or drinking from the same cup. Mr Robinson said discrimination against those with HIV discourage other people to get tested or receive medication to prevent an early death.

New Zealand has 2,000 people diagnosed with HIV. The number of New Zealanders diagnosed with HIV dropped to 12 per cent for men who engaged in sexual contact with other men. In the same period, Australians with HIV increased 26 per cent.

Mr Robinson said New Zealand is going against the international trend of rising number of HIV cases for men in sexual relations with other men. He said bisexual and gay men make up 80 per cent of HIV cases in New Zealand.

According to statistics, around 1 in 15 bisexual and gay men have HIV compared to 1 in 10 cases in Melbourne or Sydney.  The number of people with HIV is higher in London with 1 in 5 and in San Francisco, U.S. with 1 in 4.

Mr Robinson revealed that the rate of HIV infection is high among bisexual and gay men in the U.S. Young gay men who are still in college are said to have a 50 per cent chance of acquiring HIV by the time they turn 50.

WHO apology

Meanwhile, the World Health Organisation (WHO) has apologised for claiming that half of the new HIV cases in Greece is intentional to claim benefits from the government. The WHO claim was included in the September report.

The organisation's European office published a report that said half of the new HIV cases in Greece are "self-inflicted." WHO said it was made aware of the claim when the media asked the organisation. WHO said it was a "gross editing error" and apologised for the wrong claim. WHO said the report should have said that a "few" new cases of HIV are intentional. 

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