The Public Health Agency (PHA) is marking World Aids Day on the 1 December by publishing the HIV surveillance in Northern Ireland 2011 report. This highlights the continuing increasing trend in the number of annual new HIV diagnoses seen in recent years.
The number of new HIV diagnoses in Northern Ireland rose by 3%, from 80 in 2010 to 82 in 2011. There are now 522 people living with HIV infection in Northern Ireland, an increase of 10% on 2010.
Of the 82 new HIV diagnoses 48 of these occurred in men who have sex with men (MSM). This group still remains at most risk of acquiring HIV within the UK, while the majority of heterosexual cases are acquired abroad.
Dr Jillian Johnston, Specialist Registrar, Public Health Agency, said: “We want to take the opportunity presented by World AIDS Day to raise awareness about HIV. The safer sex message applies to everyone, regardless of whether you are straight or gay. We know people may be infected with HIV without knowing, so it is important to protect yourself and to stop the spread of infection to others. Use condoms, limit the number of your sexual partners, and get checked at your local Genito Urinary Medicine (GUM) clinic or your GP surgery, if you could be at risk.”
For information or advice on HIV, or to discuss any sexual health issue, contact your local GUM clinic or your GP.
The full report is available from – http://www.publichealthagency.org/directorate-public-health/health-protection/sexually-transmitted-infections
Notes to the editor
HIV/AIDS is a viral infection caused by type 1 and type 2 HIV retroviruses. Modes of
transmission include sexual contact, the sharing of HIV-contaminated needles and syringes, and transmission from mother to child before, during or shortly after birth. Although the risk of HIV transmission through sexual contact is lower than for most other sexually transmitted agents, this risk is increased in the presence of another sexually transmitted illness, particularly where ulcerative. Early treatment of the disease with highly active antiretroviral therapy (HAART) has produced major advances in survival rates.
The World Health Organization (WHO) reported that there were 34.2 million people livingwith HIV in 2011, of whom 2.5 million were newly diagnosed.1 During 2011, 6,280 new HIV diagnoses were made in the UK.2 Although prevalence in Northern Ireland remains lower than in the other UK countries, the increase in annual new diagnoses in Northern Ireland between 2000 and 2011 is highest of the UK countries. The key routes of transmission remain sexual contact involving men who have sex with men (MSM) and sexual contact between men and women.
- 82 new first-UK cases of HIV were diagnosed in Northern Ireland, a rate of 7.5 per 100,000 population aged 15–59 years (12.9 per 100,000 males and 2.2 per 100,000 females);
- 48 (59%) new HIV diagnoses occurred in MSM;
- 522 HIV-infected residents of Northern Ireland (as defined when last seen for statutory medical HIV-related care in 2011) received care;
- 53,294 HIV tests were carried out in Northern Ireland.