Belfast Telegraph

HIV infection figures are released

Sixty gay and bisexual men were diagnosed with HIV in the first six months of the year.

Latest figures launched on World Aids Day showed gay men continue to be the most likely group to acquire the infection in Ireland.

Tiernan Brady, of the Gay + Lesbian Equality Network (GLEN), said HIV remains an issue of critical concern for gay and bisexual men.

"A focus on targeted prevention and awareness-raising of HIV with this group of men is critical," he said.

"This focus, coupled with efforts to promote testing for HIV and other sexually-transmitted infections amongst gay and bisexual men can lead to a reduction in HIV infection rates."

Data by the Health and Safety Executive's Health Protection Surveillance Centre (HPSC) for the first half of the year revealed there were 152 new HIV diagnoses.

Almost 40% - 60 - were men who have sex with men (MSM), and more than one third of those (36.6%) were aged between 15 and 29.

The HSE and the Gay Health Network (GHN), in association with Dublin City Council, launched the first National HIV Prevention and Sexual Health Awareness Programme for MSM.

Key messages will include promotion of issues of HIV prevention, testing, condom use, and HIV-related stigma; increasing access to condoms via the Man2Man.ie website; and health promotion workshops for MSM.

Mr Brady said HIV has become a growing risk for a new generation of young gay and bisexual men. "For the first six months of this year, young men under 30 accounted for 37% of all cases," he said. "This shows the importance of the upcoming HIV prevention campaign by the Gay Health Network targeting young gay and bisexual men."

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