80 men who have sex with men were diagnosed as HIV positive in 2006, figures from Ireland’s Gay Men’s Health Project have revealed.

The group are meeting today in Dublin Castle to consider strategies, to discuss best practice and to get advice from international experts.

Junior health minister Sean Power opened proceedings.

The 2006 figure represents a increase of 45% on 2005 infections. Three-quarters of new cases are over 30 years old.

“Overall, these results highlight the consistent demand for the vital services we offer as well as the need for the continuation of our on-going health and education programmes,” Mick Quinlan, the project co-ordinator, told the Evening Echo.

The Gay Men’s Health Project is funded by the Irish Health Service.

It has been providing outreach services since 1992, the year before homosexuality was decriminalised in Ireland.

The project is involved in outreach and counselling as well as clinical services.