01/12/2014

NI Has Largest Increase In HIV Cases

There is a worryingly high level of new HIV cases being detected in Northern Ireland, the Public Health Agency (PHA) has said.

The figures have been released as part of the 'HIV Surveillance in Northern Ireland 2014' report, ahead of World AIDS Day, which is today (1 December).

The report revealed that the number of new first-UK diagnoses made in the region in 2013 was 94. This compared to 95 cases in 2012.

However, when taken into account with the rest of the UK, Northern Ireland was found to have the largest proportional increase in new HIV diagnoses over a 12-year period (from 2000 to 2013).

Of those new cases in NI, 57% were said to have occurred in men who have sex with men. In total, 749 HIV-infected residents in Northern Ireland received care for the HIV virus during 2013.

Dr Gillian Armstrong, Specialist Registrar in Public Health with the PHA, said: "The statistics show that the number of people living with HIV is increasing in Northern Ireland, but we are aware that many others may also be infected with HIV without knowing it, so it is important to take steps to help protect yourself and reduce the spread of the infection.

"We can't overstate the importance of testing for HIV to ensure an early diagnosis. People respond better to treatment when they are diagnosed at an earlier stage of disease. Knowing your HIV status is the key to both effective treatment, and to preventing onward transmission."

HIV/AIDS can be transmitted through sexual contact, sharing needles and syringes, and transmission from mother to child before, during, or shortly after birth.

(JP/CD)

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