The number of Irish men diagnosed with the virus in the last two years has nearly doubled from the previous two years, with about 70 percent of those diagnosed now suffering from HIV, according to the Irish National HIV Strategy (INHS).
The strategy, which aims to reduce the number of new infections by 40 percent by 2025, includes a focus on the treatment of the infection and a focus in research and public health on prevention.
Dr Andrew Scott, director of the National Centre for Health Research at the National Institutes of Health (NIH), said there was a need to continue to improve the uptake of effective HIV treatments and a need for new research to address other risk factors.
The strategy aims to help tackle the HIV pandemic by preventing people from becoming infected.
Scott said research on new HIV treatments was continuing but there were still challenges in terms of clinical development.
He said there had been a dramatic increase in the number and severity of infections, but the level of infection could be improved by more intensive testing and treatment.
Scott added that the strategy was also needed to help address other key issues such as access to care and mental health.
“There are some very good new therapies being developed, which will be effective in reducing the spread of the virus, but there are still a lot of things we can do to improve health care access, support and education, Scott said.
He stressed the focus of the strategy on HIV prevention was not only on the prevention of new HIV infections but also on helping people living with HIV and other infections to manage and manage their health, including the ability to work, socialise and live independently.”HIV prevention is an important aspect of a successful health and social care system.
If we don’t have effective prevention programmes, then we won’t be able to get on top of these issues,” he said.
The Irish National Strategy for HIV/AIDS Strategy 2017, released by INHS on Wednesday, said there were currently 8,800 new infections in Ireland each year.
The most recent figures from the Health Service Executive (HSE) show that of those 8,700 new infections, more than 1,100 were in men aged 25 to 44.
The statistics were released as Ireland is grappling with a spike in HIV infections in the population.
According to figures released by the National Health Service (NHS), about 1,000 new infections were recorded in the first nine months of 2017.
A total of 1,500 new infections have been recorded in each of the last four months of the year, according the figures.
In a separate statement, the National HIV/ADDS Strategy said there are currently 7,800 newly infected men aged 50 to 74 in Ireland, with an average of 6 new infections a week.
The Health Minister for Health, James Reilly, said the latest figures show that a total of 3,000 men in this age group are currently diagnosed with a new infection each week.”
This is the highest number of infections we have seen since we started monitoring the numbers in 2019,” Reilly said.”
These figures show we are not achieving our HIV strategy targets.
“The National HIV strategy focuses on the need for better access to the medicines we need to treat the virus and a shift towards the use of a new generation of treatments.
We are making every effort to ensure we are getting the support we need.”
The National Strategy also noted that a further 1,800 men aged 45 to 64 were diagnosed with new infections each week, which is up from a total 1,700 in the previous nine months.
The government has also launched a €1 million National HIV Challenge Fund, which has been launched in the form of €2.5 million in national HIV/HIV-related funds and €1.5m in support to the National Strategy.
“It is vital that we continue to work together with our partners in Ireland and elsewhere in Europe to tackle the challenges that we face as a nation, including tackling the pandemic, as we are now doing in our own country,” Reilly added.
The number of HIV diagnoses in Ireland fell by 4.2 percent in 2016 to 6,857, a decrease of 7.7 percent.
The latest figures from INHS show that in 2016, the total number of people living in Ireland with HIV increased by 4,500 from the year before.