Ahead of World AIDS Day on 1 December, the Public Health Agency (PHA) has published the HIV surveillance in Northern Ireland 2013 report.
The report shows that the annual number of new first-UK diagnoses of HIV made in Northern Ireland increased by 17% from 81 in 2011 to 95 in 2012.Of the new diagnoses of HIV in Northern Ireland in 2012, 58% occurred in men who have sex with men (MSM). 639 HIV-infected residents of Northern Ireland received care for their HIV during 2012.
HIV/AIDS is a viral infection caused by type 1 and type 2 HIV retroviruses and can be transmitted through sexual contact, sharing of HIV-contaminated needles and syringes, and transmission from mother to child before, during, or shortly after birth.
Dr Neil Irvine, Health Protection Consultant with the PHA, stressed the importance of the safer sex message for everyone.
“The PHA wants to take the opportunity of World AIDS Day to raise awareness about HIV and urge people to practice safer sex, regardless of their sexual orientation.
“The statistics show that the number of people living with HIV is increasing in Northern Ireland, but we are aware that many others may also be infected with HIV without knowing it, so it is important to take steps to help protect yourself and reduce the spread of the infection.
“We would advise those who are sexually active to use condoms, limit your number of sexual partners and get tested if you think you might be at risk. People respond better to treatment when they are diagnosed at an earlier stage of disease.”
The report is available at www.publichealth.hscni.net
Information on GUM clinics is available at: www.bit.ly/gumclinicsni
Notes to the editor
• 95 new first-UK cases of HIV were diagnosed in Northern Ireland, a rate of 8.2 per 100,000 population aged 15–59 years (12.8 per 100,000 males and 3.6 per 100,000 females);
• 55 (58%) new HIV diagnoses occurred in MSM. The majority of these cases were born in the UK (84%:46/55), acquired their infection in the UK (75%:41/55) and were of white ethnicity (73%:40/55);
• 639 HIV-infected residents of Northern Ireland (as defined when last seen for statutory medical HIV-related care in 2012) received care;
• 56,862 HIV tests were carried out in Northern Ireland, of which 25,686 were performed as part of the antenatal screening programme.