With new HIV diagnosis numbers on the rise, the recently introduced national PrEP programme could not be more timely. It has been recorded that there have been 476 new diagnoses in Ireland so far this year – this number is higher than at any one year during the height of the AIDS epidemic. It is also reportedly almost double the European average.
Last year, the number of cases reported was 523.
ACT UP Dublin member, Noel Donnellon, shared, “HIV rates are still high, the figures are always tweaked slightly, but we’re still at a higher rate than last year.
“However the PrEP programme has just started now, it hasn’t gone to full roll-out yet, but some people clinically eligible in the program can take part, and we’re seeing good take-up, so the hope is that will eventually affect figures.”
The issue of access to PrEP is still very much a concern and education and knowledge is key. According to new research conducted by Core Research on behalf of Teva Pharmaceuticals Ireland, one in five people are unaware of any HIV prevention methods. Specifically, 87% of people had never heard of PrEP yet 36% of people admitted that they would consider taking it. The research was conducted with Irish adults over 18 years of age, with a national average sample size of 969 people.
Key findings from the research include:
- 65% of Irish adults still believe that HIV is a sensitive subject.
- 93% of people think there needs to be more information on HIV in Ireland.
- 79% of people say that the first thing they would do if they found out they had HIV would be to visit a HIV clinic.
- 70% of people feel that the risk of HIV is not taken into consideration before engaging in sexual activity.
- 1 in 5 are unaware of any HIV prevention methods but of those who did know, only 2% mentioned PrEP.
- 87% of people had never heard of PrEP, but 36% of people admitted that they would consider taking it.
- 7 in 10 people believe PrEP should be available free of charge.
The research follows the government’s recent announcement of a new PrEP public access programme, which began in November.
The introduction of a publicly funded PrEP programme is a significant advancement in preventing HIV infection. The survey found that 70% of people believed PrEP should be available free of charge. A formal PrEP programme in place, as previously recommended by the Health Information and Quality Authority, would allow for a safe, effective and cost-saving environment. One new HIV diagnosis is one too many.
For more information on PrEP, please visit www.PrepLoveLife.ie
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