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Concern Over New HIV Cases

Irish Times, June 24, 2011 - Letters to Editor

Madam, – We refer to the recently published article (“New HIV cases at lowest in decade”, June 16th) identifying a reduction in newly reported cases of HIV/AIDS in 2010 (HPSC report on HIV Infection in Ireland 2010). The headline of this article may be misleading to your readers and does not fully reflect the current situation regarding new HIV infections in Ireland.

While there has been an overall reduction in the total number of reported new cases of HIV infection in recent years, this reflects the reduction in persons entering Ireland from countries of high prevalence for HIV infection, and the number of women from these countries presenting for HIV testing in antenatal care.

Of significant concern is the continued rise of new HIV cases in men who have sex with men, who now represent the majority of new cases of HIV infection in Ireland. In fact new cases of HIV infection in this group have doubled since 2005. It is imperative that the risk of HIV infection secondary to unprotected sexual contact is not forgotten.

Targeted and sustained interventions including education, access to screening and testing and a re-focus on public health awareness about HIV infection are urgently required. – Yours, etc,

Consultant Physician in Infectious Diseases,
University Hospital

Consultant Physician in Infectious Diseases,
St James’s Hospital,
Dublin 8.


New HIV Cases at Lowest in Decade

Irish Times, Jun 16, 2011

New HIV diagnoses were down almost a sixth in 2010 to their lowest level in a decade to 331, official figures show.

This change was mainly due to a decrease in new cases among heterosexual people, the HIV and Aids report by the HSE Health Protection Surveillance Centre said.

New cases among heterosexual people who came from countries with

HIV epidemics fell by a third to 64 compared with 94 in 2009.

However, new cases among gay and bisexual men, at 134, remained high.


New HIV Cases Lowest in 10 Years

Irish Times, June 15, 2011

Some 331 new cases of HIV were diagnosed last year, the lowest level in 10 years, official figures show.

According to the Health Protection Surveillance Centre (HPSC) there continues to be a high level of gay and bisexual men testing positive, with 134 new cases in 2010, the second highest level recorded, but a slight fall on the 138 recorded in 2009.

Tiernan Brady, director of Gay HIV Strategies and member of the HIV Services Network, called for a better understanding of the reasons for the high numbers.

“Prevention of the new HIV infections, along with support for people living with HIV, must remain at the core of Ireland’s HIV strategy.” he said.

“It is easy to think that HIV/Aids is something that has gone away, something that happens somewhere else to someone else, but as the Irish figures show this is not the case.

“Reduction in HIV infections can only be achieved through government and organisations working in partnership and delivering services based on the best available evidence.”

The HPSC said 10 people died of Aids in Ireland in 2010. Its report also showed almost 6,000 people in Ireland live with HIV. Some 240 males and 89 females were diagnosed with HIV last year, a 16.2 per cent decrease on the previous year.

It is the lowest number of new cases since 2001 when 299 cases were identified.

The HIV Services Network, the umbrella group representing NGOs providing services to those affected by HIV and Aids, marked Irish Aids Day by calling for a renewed focus on prevention and highlighted the importance of effectively tackling stigmatisation and discrimination.

Meanwhile, Open Heart House in Dublin and the Sexual Health Centre in Cork have joined forces to launch the Open your Mind awareness campaign to offer advice and support to people living with HIV and depression.

Dr Claire Hayes, from Aware, which supports people with depression, said the condition is very common and affects more than one in 10 people in Ireland.

“However, rates of depression are noticeably higher in people living with HIV compared to the general population,” she said.

“Living with HIV can be a real source of stress for people as they come to terms with changes in work status, social support systems and medication regimes.”