Gay Health Network report an increase in Syphilis in the Dublin area

With increasing HIV and STI notifications in Ireland disproportionately affect gay, bisexual and men who have sex with men, the Gay Health Network is recommending you "Test, Talk and Treat". 

Gay Health Network

The Gay Health Network has reported an increase in the numbers of men recently diagnosed with Syphilis.

Syphilis is a sexually transmitted infection (STI) caused by a type of bacteria. Syphilis can be hard to spot and is one of the most easily caught sexually transmitted infections. If untreated it can cause serious health problems in both men and women.

Noel Sutton from Gay Health Network said, “While condoms are still one of the most effective means of practicing safer sex, regular STI screening will minimise the risk to your sexual health and wellbeing.”

The Gay Health Network is recommending you “TEST, TALK AND TREAT”. If you are sexually active or have been in the past:

  • TEST- many STIs have no noticeable signs or symptoms;
  • TALK- about your options with your health provider;
  • TREAT- syphilis can be cured with antibiotics.

For more information, see man2man.ie

 

HIV in Ireland

HIV diagnoses in Ireland reached an all-time high of 528 in 2018, according to figures released by the HSE’s Health Protection Surveillance Centre. HIV diagnoses in 2018 increased by 7% over the number of diagnoses in 2017, and were 5% higher than the previous high of 502 diagnoses in 2016. Preliminary figures for 2019 show no decline, with a slight increase over 2018 figures at the same time last year.

On average, there is a new HIV diagnosis in Ireland every 17 hours – about 10 a week, or over 520 a year. Barriers to prevention are many: Persistent high levels of stigma around HIV and sexual health, lack of inclusive sex education, funding to Dublin’s Gay Men’s Health Service (GMHS) slashed over the last decade, grossly inadequate regional sexual health services, lack of access to effective HIV prevention tools like PrEP (“Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis”— a safe and effective way for HIV-negative people to prevent HIV by taking medication before and after sex), and a lawsuit threatening to force cheaper generic versions of PrEP out of Irish pharmacies.

This upward trend is in stark contrast to declines in other EU countries. In November the ECDC reported that in “the European Union and European Economic Area (EU/EEA) countries reported a decline in rates of new diagnoses, mainly driven by a 20% decrease since 2015 among men who have sex with men.”

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