Wellington, March 20 – Twelve more people — 11 men and one woman — were confirmed to have Aids in the last quarter of 1995, according to an Aids monitoring group at the Otago Medical School. Dr Nigel Dickson, of the University of Otago Medical School’s Aids Epidemiology Group, said this brought to 523 the number of people notified with Aids since New Zealand monitoring began in 1984. Of the 11 males notified with Aids in the last quarter, seven had had sex with other men, no risk behaviours were identified for two and information was awaited on the other two. The one female notified was reported to have been heterosexually infected, Dr Dickson said. Reports on Aids (acquired immunodeficiency syndrome) and HIV (human immunodeficiency virus) occurrence in New Zealand are produced quarterly by the Aids Epidemiology Group which is funded by the Ministry of Health. The group also reported that 25 people were newly found to be infected with HIV in the last quarter of 1995 — 20 of them male and five female. Of the males, 13 were reported as being infected by sex with other men. The only other male about whom infection information was available was an infant born to an HIV-infected woman from a part of the world where heterosexual transmission was common, Dr Dickson said. Of the women, three were reported as heterosexually infected, including one who was a prostitute from a part of the world where heterosexual transmission was common. Dr Dickson said one of the other women was a health worker who appeared to have been infected during her work in another country. He warned health care workers, particularly those working in parts of the world where HIV infection was much more common, to be aware of the ways the risk of infection could be minimised. The best way for health workers to guard against HIV infection was to adopt universal precautions, where all blood was treated as potentially infectious. A recent international study suggested that health workers exposed to infected blood through needlestick injuries had a reduced rate of infection when the drug zidovudine (AZT) was administered after exposure. However Dr Dickson said the results concerning the effectiveness of AZT in those circumstances should be treated with caution due to limitations in the study. AZT had been approved for use in such circumstances in New Zealand, he said. In such situations, a specialist physician experienced in managing people with HIV infection should be consulted urgently as early treatment was needed, Dr Dickson said. The quarterly report also said that of the 523 people notified with Aids up to the end of 1995, 429 (or 82 percent) had died, 74 (14.1 percent) were alive, 17 (3.3 percent) were overseas and three (0.6 percent) had been lost to follow-up contact. NZPA WGT ks cf sje 20/03/96 08-14NZ
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