New HIV Cases in Ireland Increase by 21%, Health Protection Surveillance Center Says

The number of new HIV diagnoses in Ireland increased by 21% during the first half of 2007, the Health Protection Surveillance Centre said recently, the Irish Examiner reports. The HPSC recorded 204 new HIV cases in the first half of 2007, compared with 337 during all of 2006.
HPSC officials were able to determine the mode of transmission for 150 of the new cases. Of the 150, 53% were transmitted through heterosexual contact, while 23% were transmitted among injection drug users and 21% were transmitted among men who have sex with men. More than 50% of the new cases were diagnosed among men, and 39% were diagnosed among women (Kelpie, Irish Examiner, 2/27). Gender was not available for 7% of the cases (Taylor, Irish Times, 2/26). The average age of people newly diagnosed with the virus was 33, the Examiner reports.

HPSC identified the nationality of 120 of the new cases and found that 42% were among people born in sub-Saharan Africa and that 40% were among people born in Ireland. The majority of people who contracted HIV through heterosexual contact were from sub-Saharan Africa, according to the Examiner. Geographic location was determined for 108 of the new cases, 78% of which occurred among people who lived in Dublin, Kildare or Wicklow (Irish Examiner, 2/27).

In addition, Northern Ireland has recorded a 300% increase in the number of recorded HIV/AIDS cases during the past ten years, Michael McBride, chief medical officer for the region, said at the Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons' Sexual Health and HIV Symposium. McBride added that there has been a 20% increase in diagnoses of other sexually transmitted infections over the past five years in Northern Ireland. According to McBride, population mobility is responsible for the increase in new HIV and STI diagnoses (Graham, Daily Mirror, 2/27).

The Dublin AIDS Alliance has called for increased awareness about HIV/AIDS and sexual health, including a national sexual health strategy and expansion of health care programs to include treatment of STIs (Irish Examiner, 2/27). Mary O'Shea, DAA executive director, said the increase in new HIV cases is "of serious concern," adding that the "figures show that more work is required in developing sexual health prevention strategies nationally" (Irish Times, 2/26). McBride added that he is "committed to ensuring" people living with HIV/AIDS "receive the best possible care and access" to treatment (Daily Mirror, 2/27).

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