20 Dec 2010

Small sexual network only reason for low HIV rates in Pacific

7:13 am on 20 December 2010

The New Zealand AIDS Foundation says a small sexual network is the only reason the numbers of people infected with HIV in the Pacific outside of Papua New Guinea remain low.

The NZAF works in PNG with the Pacific Sexual Diversity Network and with local groups in Samoa and Tonga.

The director of HIV Prevention and Communications, Simon Harger-Forde, says outside of PNG men who have sex with men remain most affected by HIV and they're hard to reach because of the stigma attached to discussion of such matters.

"We've got some pretty appalling sexual health statistics. We've got some pretty low rates of condom use. Sometimes we've got some real challenges in terms of access to condoms as well and so therefore we've sort of got all the things happening that if HIV was in the sexual network, then HIV would do pretty well."