Ireland: Rise in HIV Cases Among Gay Men

The number of new HIV diagnoses among Irish men who have sex with men (MSM) grew 42.3 percent between 2008 and 2009, from 97 to 138, health officials said this week. At the same time, the total number of new cases of HIV in Ireland declined 2.2 percent to 395, reported Ireland's Health Protection Surveillance Center (HPSC). Males accounted for 258 of the new cases diagnosed during 2009. Overall, 156 case were among heterosexuals and injecting drug users accounted for 30.

"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," said Dr. Aidan O'Hora, HPSC specialist in public health medicine.

Five of the new HIV cases in 2009 were among children, all believed to be infected by mother-to-child transmission.

Ireland was the country of birth for 141 of the 307 new HIV cases for which geographic information was available. Sub-Saharan Africa was the birthplace for 96 newly diagnosed, with the rest coming from Europe and South America.