HIV rates rise in Northern Ireland with gay and bisexual men making up half of new diagnoses
HIV rates are going down across the UK, however Northern Ireland is bucking the trend and has seen an increase in the numbers of people diagnosed, according to public health figures.
84 people were diagnosed with the virus in 2017 in Northern Ireland, with 40 of those involving men who have sex with men, reports Belfast Live.
26 people were also diagnosed with HIV from having sex with a person of the opposite sex. Doctors did not know the cause of the remaining cases.
Fewer than five cases were caused by needles used for drugs, and the vast majority of those diagnosed were men. Just 15 of those diagnosed last year were women.
While the rate has increased, it is still lower than it was in 2015, when 105 people were diagnosed with HIV in Northern Ireland.
There was a substantial drop in the number of people diagnosed with HIV in the UK as a whole last year.
4,363 people were diagnosed in 2017 in the UK in total, compared to 5,280 in 2016.
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The number of newly diagnosed people across the UK was 6,043 in 2015, and since then there has been a fall in diagnoses among gay and bisexual men.
Recent research suggests that gay men with HIV who are on effective treatment pose no risk of passing on the virus through condomless sex.
Speaking about the results of the study, which was called PARTNER2, Michael Brady of the Terrence Higgins Trust said it had proven what they already knew: “That people living with HIV on effective treatment cannot pass the virus onto their sexual partners.”
He added that the study would be essential in helping to “fight the stigma and myths that still surround HIV.”
People who are living with HIV often face social stigma. Recently, Scott Wayne Smith was charged with intimidation after he threatened to blow up a building which is home to gay people and those living with HIV in Portland, Oregon.