By Adam Shaw
HIV Ireland, formerly the Dublin Aids Alliance, has asked Ireland’s incoming new government to act now to tackle what it says is a “spiralling HIV crisis” in the country.
At least ten people are being newly-diagnosed with the virus in Ireland every week. Diagnoses in Ireland reached their highest level on record in 2015, and concerned campaigners have called on the incoming administration to address the issue immediately.
New HIV cases across the country have increased by more than a third since 2011, with almost 500 people diagnosed last year.
And the national charity, which was set up to battle the spread of the infection, has urged an extensive campaign to stem the “worrying trend”.
Niall Mulligan, the charity’s executive director, said he is “alarmed at the relentless upward trend in HIV diagnoses” and added that official figures are likely to understate the scale of the crisis.
“According to the World Health Organisation, 30 per cent of people living with HIV are undiagnosed,” he explained.
“It is therefore likely that a number of people living with HIV in Ireland is considerably higher than the number of diagnosed cases.”
Mr Mulligan is keen to see a huge public awareness drive once the new government is formed. He suggested the distribution of free condoms and the option of voluntary nationwide testing.
“We also need to focus on those who face a higher risk due to their circumstances – being homeless, being addicted to drugs, working within the sex industry, being in prison, suffering from poor mental health,” he added. “Failure to do so runs the risk of creating a catastrophe out of a crisis.”