‘Urgent’ need to educate youth as HIV cases skyrocket

A marked rise in the number of people being diagnosed with HIV has prompted calls for new information campaigns and a nationwide introduction of free test kits.

‘Urgent’ need to educate youth as HIV cases skyrocket

So far this year, there have been 427 new cases of HIV, compared to 342 this time last year, figures from the HSE’s Health Protection Surveillance Centre show.

The statistics were discussed yesterday as part of a meeting of the Oireachtas health committee, held to mark World Aids Day.

“The age group of people most at risk of HIV is getting younger,” said Tiernan Brady of the Gay and Lesbian Equality Network. “There is a real and urgent need to educate a new generation of young people, and young gay and bisexual men in particular, about HIV and the importance of knowing your HIV status.”

Mr Brady tsaid that, since 2005, the number of gay men diagnosed with HIV had increased by 210%.

“It is clear from the latest figures that HIV remains an issue of critical concern for gay and bisexual men,” he said. “The figures for 2015 show that gay and bisexual men are the group most likely to acquire HIV.”

CEO of the Cork Sexual Health Clinic, Deirdre Seery, called for a rise in rapid, free, community-based tests and new information campaigns.

“There are new, younger generations of people becoming HIV positive who would not have been exposed to the old safer sex and safer drug use campaigns,” she said.

Also yesterday, Health Minister Leo Varadkar unveiled HIV Ireland, formerly the Dublin Aids Alliance.

“This rebranding is a positive step which can only build on all the good work the organisation has performed so far,” he said, adding the Government would pilot a rapid HIV test service.

“Early detection allows treatment to start early, it minimises the long-term health implications, and reduces potential new infections,” he said.

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