Saturday 20 October 2018

Ireland set for one of its highest ever years of HIV diagnoses

HIV test
HIV test
Eilish O'Regan

Eilish O'Regan

The number of people newly diagnosed with HIV in Ireland this year is set to top 500, one of the highest numbers ever recorded.

It comes as a generic version of a drug, which can reduce the risk of people getting HIV, is to be available on private prescription in Irish pharmacies from Monday.

The drug known, as PreP, is credited with bringing down cases of HIV in the United States. World Aids Day is marked today amid warnings that Ireland is facing the real prospect that new HIV cases will top 500 for the second year in a row.

To date, provisional figures for 2017 indicate there have been 450 new HIV diagnoses in Ireland, similar to this time last year.

A spokeswoman said the drug is not available under the medical card or Drug Payment Scheme.

It costs €90 to €100 for a monthly dose.

She said it has been shown to significantly reduce the risk of HIV infection through sex, particularly for those deemed at risk, such as gay and bisexual men, and transgender women, but also for heterosexual men and women.

“On Wednesday this week, New York’s Health Department announced that new diagnoses of HIV in the city have fallen to an all-time low.

In 2016, 2,279 people were newly diagnosed with the virus — down 8.6pc from 2015, according to data from the city's HIV Surveillance Annual Report.

The city’s Health Department's Deputy Commissioner for Disease Control, Dr Demetre Daskalakis, has credited PrEP as a significant reason for the decrease.

Niall Mulligan,  Executive Director of HIV Ireland said:" To date, provisional figures for 2017 indicate there have been 450 new HIV diagnoses in Ireland. This is in line with last year when a total of 508 people were newly diagnosed as living with HIV.

"If this trend continues in 2017, Ireland is likely to experience one of the highest numbers of new HIV diagnoses on record."

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