Number of new HIV cases in Ireland jumps by 32%

NEW cases of HIV infection in Ireland rose significantly in the first half of last year, according to figures published yesterday.

The National Disease Surveillance Centre (NDSC) reported 207 newly-diagnosed cases, a rise of almost one-third from 157 in the first half of 2002. Just over half of the people affected were women.

The figures bring the total number of cases of HIV infection diagnosed here to 3,216 as of end June 2003.

Heterosexual transmission decreased, while the number of men who have sex with men (MSM) increased by 94% when compared to the first half of 2002.

Twenty five percent of the cases for which data is available were born in Ireland, thus dispelling the misconception that HIV is something that happens to somebody else, somewhere else.

The NDSC said the report will be updated when details of the remaining 60 people become available.

Fourteen intravenous drug users and seven children infected by their mothers were diagnosed in the first half of 2003.

Dublin Aids Alliance expressed concern at the sharp increase in HIV cases. Executive director Ann Nolan said the climate of cutbacks affected the agency’s ability to respond effectively to the increasing needs of its rising client base.

“It is imperative that Government and its agencies show flexibility and make sufficient resources available to develop the services as demand grows.

“The need to increase awareness of HIV among the general public is paramount, while elimination of the stigma and isolation that people living with HIV continue to experience is of equal importance,” said Ms Nolan.

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