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Ireland records lowest level of new HIV cases in 10 years

However a report by the Health Protection Surveillance Centre found there continues to be a high level of gay and bisexual men testing positive.

A TOTAL OF 331 new cases of HIV were diagnosed in Ireland last year, the lowest level in 10 years according to official figures.

However a report by the Health Protection Surveillance Centre (HPSC) – published on Irish Aids Day – found there continues to be a high level of gay and bisexual men testing positive, with 134 new cases in 2010, the second-highest ever recorded.

Of the total HIV diagnoses in 2010, 240 were male and 89 were female.

Heterosexual transmission accounted for 37.2 per cent of new cases, down from 63.7 per cent of cases in 2002.

Of the 123 new cases among heterosexuals, 64 (52 per cent) were diagnosed in individuals originating from countries with generalised HIV epidemics. This was compared to 94 such cases in 2009.

Dublin Aids Alliance executive director Anna Quigley welcomed the reduction but said more needed to be done as any new cases of such a preventable illness were unnecessary.

In a statement, Ms Quigley explained:

Testing needs to be expanded. International evidence shows that partnerships between hospitals and community settings increase access to hard-to-reach groups. Also, there is a need for much greater awareness and promotion of sexual health in the general population and amongst young people in particular.

Quigley added “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”.

The HPSC said ten people died of Aids in Ireland in 2010 and almost 6,000 people in Ireland currently live with HIV. The 2010 total 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 today by calling for a renewed focus on prevention and on tackling stigmatisation and discrimination.

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