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One-third of new HIV cases are African

TOM PRENDEVILLE

ALMOST a third of those diagnosed with HIV in Ireland last year were African - with the majority of victims now identified as non-nationals.

According to the Health Protection Surveillance Centre 2007 Report of the 337 people diagnosed with HIV, almost a third of cases came from African nations, making them the second largest group after Irish sufferers. The third largest were people from EU countries.

According to the Health Protection Surveillance Centre, the foreign nationals affected did not acquire HIV in Ireland, but appear to have arrived here already infected. The report said: "A total of 337 HIV infections newly diagnosed during 2006 were reported to the Health Protection Surveillance Centre. This compares to 318 diagnosed cases in 2005 and represents a 6 per cent increase.

"Of the 283 cases where the geographic origin (nationality) was known, 125 were born in Ireland and 109 were born in Sub-Saharan Africa. Data on the geographic origin is not available for 54 cases."

Although the number of new HIV cases increased overall on the previous year, the figures are five per cent lower than they were in 2004, when 356 new cases were recorded. During that period, 136 Irish people contracted HIV, 11 more than last year, which would indicate that HIV is in decline among Irish people.

Half of last year's HIV infections were caught through heterosexual activity.

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