200 people here unaware they have HIV, say charity
Around 200 people are living with undiagnosed HIV in Northern Ireland, a charity has said.
More than half of diagnoses happen in the later stages of the illness and earlier detection is vital for a better prognosis, according to Positive Life.
The number of people newly-identified with the virus rose by 46% to 94 in the decade from 2004.
Positive Life chief executive Jacquie Richardson said: "The reality of the increasing prevalence of HIV in Northern Ireland is alarming."
An estimated 809 people have a HIV diagnosis in Northern Ireland. Research shows that there is an upward trend in the total number of tests being carried out, with 35,814 tests in 2014.
HIV is a treatable infection with many of those diagnosed taking one tablet a day and living in good health, with a near normal life expectancy.
A spokeswoman for Positive Life said: "HIV in Northern Ireland is widely stigmatised and those living with the condition are often disparaged or devalued.
"Positive Life believes that if stereotypes around HIV were curtailed, HIV testing would increase, reducing undiagnosed and late diagnosis of HIV."
She said there was a misconception that HIV is transmitted between two men during sex.
"In Northern Ireland heterosexual transmission has assumed increasing importance since 2003 and now accounts for 41% of new diagnoses to date in the UK, in comparison to 53% of new diagnoses to date among male to male transmission in the UK to date."