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Government called on to expand HIV testing services in Ireland

There is a call on the government to expand HIV testing services in Ireland.

HIV Ireland is making the call on Irish AIDS Day today because of record high numbers of the disease.

It says new Health Protection Surveillance Centre data shows the number of new HIV cases climbed to 536 in 2019 - the highest ever.

HIV Ireland executive director Stephen O'Hare says the figures have been going up over the past few years.

“It’s not a one size fits all statistic, but it does suggest that the numbers of new cases are rising,” he said.

“Over the past three years we’ve seen a small but steady increase.

“And that includes an increase in the rate of notified cases which has gone up to over 11 per 100,000 of the population.”

Mr O'Hare has called on the government to do more HIV testing due to the pandemic.

“The impact on existing service provision, on our economy and on our society has been stark,” he said.

“There are, however, key lessons to be learned from this experience, which should inform the Government’s approach to HIV prevention, not least the critical value of widespread testing to detect and prevent onward transmission of the virus.” 

Mr O’Hare added: “The true impact of the lockdown, social distancing and the closure of recreational venues on rates of HIV transmission is not likely be known for some time following the widespread recommencement of testing.

“HIV Ireland will continue to play a prominent role in promoting testing and other preventive measures as services return.”