The number of people diagnosed with HIV in New Zealand has hit a new high.

Last year 244 people - 217 men and 17 women - were diagnosed with HIV. The numbers are the highest recorded number to date and bring the total number of people living with HIV in New Zealand to 3500 at the end of 2016.

The majority of those diagnosed - 159 - were gay or bisexual men, according to figures from the University of Otago's AIDS Epidemiology Group.

The latest figures are worrying the New Zealand AIDS Foundation.


NZAF executive director Jason Myers said the growing numbers should be seen as a call to action for people working in the HIV sector or impacted by HIV.

Myers said noone was immune from risk. While 80 per cent of people transmitting HIV were gay and bisexual men, the other 20 per cent were heterosexual people. Of that 20 per cent, 22 were men and 20 were women.

"The reality is noone is immune from risk...

"The message is really clear - if you think you have been at risk then get tested for HIV."

Myers said there was no recent research to indicate why it was increasing, but data from 2014 showed condom use among gay and bisexual men was dropping.

People traveling more could also play a role, Myers said.

"If we are to think about the group most impacted again we know it's a very mobile population. Lots of gay and bisexual men for example having weekends in Sydney and other cities in Australia where HIV prevalence is high and coming home again."

The foundation believed only "urgent, sophisticated and co-ordinated efforts" could stop the transmission by the 2025 target. The key, it said, was on-going condom promotion, making pre-exposure prophylaxis available (a pill to prevent the transmission of HIV) to people at highest risk of HIV, scaled-up testing and providing immediate treatment to people newly diagnosed.


"In an increasingly complex HIV prevention environment, we must mount the most sophisticated attack that we can.

"The world of HIV prevention has been revolutionised in recent years and the time to act is now if we are to gain the maximum benefit possible from new opportunities."

The cost of treating someone with HIV is estimated to be $800,000 during their lifetime. The annual bill has doubled over the past five years to $32 million a year.