Ireland Seeing Increase in HIV Cases in Some Areas, Health Official Says

Mary Horgan, a consultant physician in infectious diseases with Ireland's Health Service Executive South, said recently that an increase in the number of reported HIV cases in Cork and Kerry is a cause for concern and urged residents to practice safer sex, the Irish Times reports. Horgan said that the number of HIV cases in Cork and Kerry increased by more than 25% to 80 in 2008, marking the greatest increase in recent years. The number of HIV cases in the two areas reached 49 in 2004 and 58 in 2007.

Horgan said that residents should be aware that preventing the spread of HIV is equally important in rural areas -- such as Cork and Kerry -- as it is in urban areas. Injection drug use accounted for a small portion of new cases, and the majority of cases were related to unprotected sex, Horgan reported. Most new HIV cases occurred among people ages 20 to 50, with a smaller number of cases recorded among foreign-born residents and an increased incidence among people born in Ireland, according to Horgan. "The safer-sex message needs to be hammered home again," she said, adding that people should use condoms and undergo HIV tests. In addition, Horgan reported that sexually transmitted infection clinics in Cork and Kerry see about 2,500 to 3,000 new patients annually (Roche, Irish Times, 3/31).

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