Record levels of new HIV cases for Gay and Bisexual men
Figures released by the HSE’s Health Protection Surveillance Centre show that there were 166 newly diagnosed cases of HIV for gay and bisexual men in 2012 in Ireland. These figures are the highest diagnosis rates recorded to date.
“It is clear from the figures that HIV is a critical issue of growing concern for gay and bisexual men. The figures for 2012 show that gay and bisexual men are the group most likely to acquire HIV in Ireland. The trend is very worrying.” said Tiernan Brady, Director of Gay HIV Strategies (GHS) with GLEN. “A focus on raising awareness about HIV, sexual health education and targeted HIV prevention measures with this group of men is critical. This focus, coupled with efforts to promote testing for HIV and other sexually transmitted infections amongst gay and bisexual men can lead to a reduction in HIV infection rates”.
The figures show that HIV diagnosis rates amongst gay and bisexual men have increased by 160% between 2005 and 2012 and now represent just under half (48%)of all new HIV diagnoses.
The figures also show that the age group most at risk of HIV is getting younger. The average age of MSM HIV diagnosis has fallen to 32 years of age in 2012.
Brady continued “For a new generation of young gay and bisexual men, the risk of contracting HIV has grown significantly. Between 2005 and 2012 there has been a four‐fold increase in the number of new diagnoses among those aged between 25‐34 years. There is a critical need to educate young gay and bisexual men about good sexual health and about HIV and how they can protect themselves from contracting the condition. HIV is a preventable condition and our goal must be zero new infections.”
“Implementation of sexual health education and HIV prevention strategies and campaigns targeting groups which are most at risk are critical in effectively responding to the ongoing high levels of HIV diagnosis amongst gay and bisexual men. Such campaigns, working in conjunction with wider strategies addressing the need for testing and tackling the discrimination and stigma which is experienced by people living with HIV would represent an effective focussing and marshalling of the available resources” Brady concluded.
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