Dr Jason Myers Discusses How New Zealand Pivoted to Continue HIV Care During the Pandemic

Jason Myers, PhD, CEO of the New Zealand AIDS Foundation, addresses how New Zealand promptly adjusted its delivery of services for people living with HIV and AIDS in New Zealand, with examples including HIV self-test kits, online counseling, and provision of mental health care assistance.

Jason Myers, PhD, CEO of the New Zealand AIDS Foundation, addresses how New Zealand promptly adjusted its delivery of services for people living with HIV and AIDS, with examples including HIV self-test kits, online counseling, and provision of mental health care assistance.

Transcript

How did the COVID-19 pandemic affect services in New Zealand for people living with HIV/AIDS?

In terms of impact on service access for people living with HIV, I think it has been limited. The impact has been limited, I should be clear. Organizations like ours, for example, have pivoted very quickly to ensure that the support services that we would ordinarily offer in person for counseling, for example, are available online. The HIV and STI [sexually transmitted infection] testing services we would provide, we are now sending out in the form of HIV self-test kits and providing the wraparound support required for people doing one of those tests in their homes.

In terms of specialist care for people living with HIV, nearly everybody living with HIV in New Zealand will be linked to care and will have very sophisticated and developed relationships with both a specialist HIV physician and a specialist HIV nurse. So, through these times contact is often made with people living with HIV to check not only on things like, do you have enough medication to get you through, do we need to get that sorted, but also other things—just like the impact of COVID-19 lockdowns on mental health and how the system might be able to support.

So, I haven't heard any stories of imperfect or inadequate care for people living with HIV resulting from the strict public health measures that have come about.