HPSC publishes HIV and AIDS figures for 2009


New figures released by the HSE’s Health Protection Surveillance Centre show 395 newly diagnosed case of HIV in Ireland during 2009 – a 2.2% decrease compared with 2008 – and 33 new cases of AIDS.

The cumulative number of AIDS cases reported up the end of 2009 is 1038, with 414 deaths reported among AIDS cases. There were two deaths among AIDS cases reported in 2009. The total number of HIV infections reported up to the end of 2009 is 5,637.

156 of the newly diagnosed HIV cases were heterosexually acquired, 138 new infections were among men who have sex with men (MSM) and 30 were among injecting drug users (IDUs). However, this data must be interpreted with caution as information on risk group is not available for 65 cases, making analysis of trends difficult.

258 of those diagnosed with HIV in 2009 were male, and 137 were female.

There were five new diagnoses of HIV infection in children during 2009. All are likely to have been infected through mother to child transmission (MCT). Of these, one was born in Ireland and the remaining four were older children who were born in Sub-Saharan Africa.

Of the 307 HIV cases where geographic origin is known, 141 were born in Ireland, 96 were born in sub-Saharan Africa, 21 were born in Western Europe, 13 were born in Central Europe, 15 were born in Eastern Europe and 14 were born in South America.

HPSC specialist in public health medicine, Dr Aidan O’Hora, said that the one of the key findings of this year’s report was the number of MSM who have been newly diagnosed with HIV. 

“The number rose from 97 in 2008 to 138 in 2009 – a 42.3% increase in twelve months. The majority of these men – 63% - were born in Ireland and most likely acquired their infection here. Young men under 30 years of age accounted for 35% of new diagnoses. This trend is consistent with what is being seen in many other western industrialized countries.

“The overall drop in HIV cases is welcome. 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.

“The epidemiology of HIV in Ireland is complex and due to the voluntary nature of the reporting system, it is likely that the number of case reports is an underestimate,” added Dr O’Hora.

The full report is available here.