Tuesday, 4 December 2018
Department of Health
424. To ask the Minister for Health his views on the rising rates of HIV transmission in 2018; if further investment in testing services will take place in response to this; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [50815/18]
The HSE Health Protection Surveillance Centre advises that the weekly HIV notification reports for 2018 are provisional. I remain concerned about these provisional figures that show a rise in HIV infection.
The HIV Annual Report for 2017 from the Centre was recently published. It is the latest annual trend data for HIV in Ireland. The report referred to 492 new diagnoses of HIV in Ireland in 2017, a rate of 10.3 per 100,000 population, representing a slight (2%) decrease between 2016 and 2017.
When those with a previous HIV diagnosis abroad were excluded, the number of new diagnoses decreased by 4% in 2017 compared to 2016.
The HIV Annual Report for 2017 referred to 223,609 HIV tests carried out in 13 laboratories in Ireland, giving a testing rate of 47.0 per 1,000 population. This compares to 40.5 per 1,000 in 2016 with data being provided by an extra laboratory in 2017.
HIV testing is available in Ireland through a variety of services, such as opt-out antenatal and sexual health services, emergency departments, NGO’s, drug and homeless services and primary care.
Over the past 2 years, community HIV testing is expanding, in order to reach those most at risk of HIV and identify those living with undiagnosed HIV. The KnowNow community HIV testing model has expanded since the pilot in 2016, and organisations in Dublin, Cork, Limerick and Galway have been funded to provide community HIV testing to populations at higher risk for HIV, such as Men who have Sex with Men (MSM) and migrants.
The HSE Sexual Health and Crisis Pregnancy Programme have a multi-faceted communications approach in response to the rise in HIV notifications. This includes the development and implementation of national campaigns such as Respectprotecton Twitter for young audiences 18-30 years and the Man2Man(.ie) website for MSM.
Finally, the website sexualwellbeing(.ie) was launched in April 2018. This website aims to be the trusted source of information on sexual health and wellbeing in Ireland. The website speaks to all people living in Ireland, regardless of their sexual orientation or age/ stage of adult life.