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Lots done, lots to do: mixed messages from HIV prevention report

The Department of Health’s report shows that there is still more to work to do in tackling the spread of HIV and AIDS.

A schoolgirl walks past red ribbons stencilled in the snow by artist Will St Leger to mark World AIDS Day last December.
A schoolgirl walks past red ribbons stencilled in the snow by artist Will St Leger to mark World AIDS Day last December.
Image: Niall Carson/PA Archive

AN OFFICIAL REPORT into Ireland’s progress in tackling the spread of HIV and AIDS reveals that Ireland has made significant progress, but that there are still major shortcomings in its approach.

The Department of Health’s interim report into its HIV and AIDS education and prevention plan said that while the overall infection rate had fallen slightly since 2008, but that the rate of infection in men who have sex with men (MSM) had seen a “large increase”.

The report specifically earmarked Ireland’s failure to provide condoms to young people in college, and in care settings, for its failure to record any larger reduction in HIV infection rates.

The report found that good progress had been made in educating young people on how to avoid infection, with non-governmental organisations given significant credit for their role in educating Ireland’s youth.

But the interim report also found “little progress” in the plan’s other proposals, such as increased availability of condoms and other tactics to reduce infection rates among injecting drug users, who account for a major proportion of Ireland’s new HIV diagnoses.

Actions trying to tackle the stigma of HIV infection had also been limited so far.

Ireland’s lack of a comprehensive strategy on sexual health was singled out for criticism by the interim report.

Read the Executive Summary of the report >

About the author:

Gavan Reilly

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