HPSC publishes HIV figures for 2004

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As Irish AIDS Day is marked on the 15th June, the Health Protection Surveillance Centre today (Tuesday) published figures outlining the number of HIV cases recorded in Ireland in 2004.

There were 356 newly diagnosed cases of HIV in Ireland in 2004 - a 10.8% decrease when compared with 2003. The cumulative total number of reported HIV infections up to the end of December 2004 is 3,764. 

178 of the newly diagnosed cases were heterosexually acquired. This compares with 223 cases in 2003. However, this data must be interpreted with caution as information on risk group is unavailable for 39 of the newly diagnosed cases in 2004, making analysis of trends difficult.

192 of those diagnosed in 2004 were male, and 161 were female, while gender was unknown for three cases.

Of the 305 cases where geographic origin is known, 136 were born in Ireland and 130 cases were born in sub-Saharan Africa.

There were 62 new diagnoses among men who have sex with men (MSM) during 2004, compared with 75 for the previous year.

There were 71 new diagnoses among injecting drug users during 2004 compared to 49 in 2003.

41 people were diagnosed with AIDS at the same time as HIV diagnosis (where information is available). These people would not have had the opportunity to benefit from treatment prior to AIDS diagnosis.

HPSC specialist in public health medicine, Dr Mary Cronin, said that it is important to note that these figures do not represent the number of people infected with the HIV virus in Ireland, but rather provide information on the number of new diagnoses in 2004.

"The number of new diagnoses reported is dependent on patterns of HIV testing and reporting and there is a need to raise awareness and dispel myths in relation to HIV/AIDS and to promote HIV testing particularly among groups at risk.

"The figures highlight the continuing need for appropriate prevention and treatment services for all risk groups in Ireland, including migrants and ethnic communities. The number of people living with HIV is growing and given the increases in sexually transmitted diseases which facilitate the transmission of HIV infection, people should heed the safe sex message. Anyone engaging in sexual activity should practice safe sex. A properly used condom provides effective protection from HIV.

"It has been clearly shown that mother to child transmission of HIV can be dramatically reduced or prevented by appropriate treatment and intervention measures. A policy to recommend and offer antenatal HIV screening to all women was introduced in Ireland in 1999. Of a total of 113 babies born to HIV infected mothers during 2004, only one was diagnosed with HIV infection, underlining the success of the antenatal screening programme in Ireland," said Dr Cronin.