17/06/2015

Number Of People With HIV Almost Doubles In Ten Years – PHA

Northern Ireland had the biggest rise in new HIV diagnoses compared to the rest of the UK between 2000-2013, according to new figures.

The number of people living with HIV has almost doubled over the last two years, the Public Health Agency (PHA) has announced.

Dr Louise Herron, Consultant in Public Health Medicine at the PHA, said: "By having unprotected sex you could effectively be sleeping with everyone your partner's ever slept with, putting yourself at risk of getting HIV or another STI."

The PHA is launching a new campaign aimed at improving and protecting people's sexual health and wellbeing.

Dr Herron continued: "This new campaign aims to promote good sexual health and contribute to reducing STIs in Northern Ireland.

"The Health Survey Northern Ireland 2013/14 found that in the 16-24 age group, around a quarter of people said that they had three or more sexual partners in the last year.
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"The Health Survey also indicated that nearly a third of people agreed that drinking alcohol had contributed to them having sex without using a condom. That's why it is so important that both men and women plan ahead, prepare for the possibility of sex, and carry condoms."

The campaign will target 16-34 year olds as this age group has the highest rate of STIs, and it will encourage them to protect themselves.

Sinn Féin MLA Maeve McLaughlin said: "The rise in the rates of sexually transmitted infections, particularly among young people, is a worrying development.

"I visited the sexual health clinic at the Royal Victoria Hospital recently along with the Assembly health committee and met with staff who are carrying out great work under very challenging circumstances.

"I would encourage anyone who is concerned about their sexual health to avail of the services that are available at local sexual health clinics."

(CD/JP)

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