New HIV cases at St James's rise by record 20%


DUBLIN’S ST James’s Hospital has reported the highest number of new HIV cases in one year since records began, with a 20 per cent increase in positive diagnoses.

The largest increase was among men who have sex with men. New cases in this group doubled in the year. Most patients were younger than 30. The hospital projects that 242 people will be diagnosed with HIV by the end of the year, compared to 208 people last year. This rise was due to unsafe sexual practices among young men, said Dr Fiona Mulcahy, consultant in genito-urinary medicine and infectious diseases at the hospital.

HIV is no longer in the public consciousness due to medical advances, she said. For every three people diagnosed, one does not know they are infected, she said.

The Gay and Lesbian Equality Network has called on the Health Service Executive (HSE) to make HIV testing more widely available and to implement a national sexual health strategy.

Fine Gael health spokesman Dr James Reilly said Government complacency had caused complacency among at-risk groups. He called for a national education campaign on HIV prevention.

The HSE said education in HIV/Aids was already a strategic part of its health promotion.

Opening a lecture for World Aids Day yesterday, Minister of State for Overseas Development Peter Power emphasised the vulnerability of women in sub-Saharan Africa.Meanwhile, Dublin City Hall was floodlit in red yesterday to show solidarity with people living with HIV/Aids.