HIV on the Rise in Ireland
By R. Bryan Willits, Editorial Assistant
August / September 2016
Recent figures from the Health Protection Surveillance Centre, Ireland’s specialist agency for the surveillance of communicable diseases, show a 30 percent increase in HIV cases in Ireland. To combat this, the Union of Students in Ireland teamed up with Operation Zero in June for Irish AIDS Days at nonprofit HIV Ireland, to spread their message: “no shame, no judgment, just support!” in hopes of encouraging students to get tested.
“USI is encouraging students across Ireland to regularly get tested,” Kevin Donoghue, USI President says. “STI screenings are available in health clinics across campuses and from local GPs. There are also free rapid HIV testing in locations such as Panti Bar in Dublin; GOSHH in Limerick, Chambers nightclub in Cork and a walk-in clinic in UCH Galway. STI screenings only take five minutes and are essential for a healthy sex life.”
Speaking at the Irish AIDS day launch, the lord Mayor of Dublin, Críona Ní Dhálaigh, highlighted other aspects of Ireland’s upward trend in HIV diagnoses. “New HIV diagnoses in Ireland have increased to their highest level on record in 2015. Provisional data published by the HSE Health Protection Surveillance Centre shows that a total of 491 people were newly diagnosed with HIV in 2015 – a 30 percent increase over 2014 figures,” the Lord Mayor said. “Data also shows a significant increase in HIV diagnoses amongst people who inject drugs with a 67 percent increase in 2015, many of whom are people who are homeless in Dublin.”
Many of those diagnosed with HIV are at the later stage of the infection and USI is emphasizing that the sooner the diagnosis has been confirmed, the sooner a medical plan can be established. ♦