The OECD (Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development) recently released the results of their Society At A Glance report. There is a section dealing with LGBT+ issues and the report finds there are as many people who identify as homosexual as there are those who identify as bisexual in Ireland.
The report finds that we are one of the only countries with such equally weighted representation. This contradicts the view held by some that bisexuals are an ‘invisible minority’.
Iceland also had equal representation, while in Germany and Chile there were more than double the amount of people who identified as homosexual. In Sweden there were more than double of those who identified as bisexual. In other countries, there were fluctuations but no other such huge differences or equal representations.
The report finds that in 2016, Ireland was one of the countries with the highest rate of new HIV diagnoses. Ireland reported the third highest amount of cases behind Latvia and Estonia. Portugal and Luxembourg both also reported high numbers of new diagnoses.
This correlates with the findings of Ireland’s Health Protection Surveillance Centre which described how annual detection rates for all five of the STIs most prevalent in this country – HIV, syphilis, gonorrhoea, herpes and chlamydia – have shown an alarming increase since 2013/2014.
Cases of gonorrhoea have soared from 1,282 in 2013 to 2,407 last year, while herpes detection rates have risen from 1,127 to 1,594 over the same period.
These spikes in STIs are occurring despite major public health education campaigns by the HSE, and are causing major concern among health professionals. “It is very disconcerting that we are almost becoming accepting of this,” said HIV Ireland executive director Niall Mulligan last year. He added that the figures emerging in 2018 were the worst he had yet seen.
Sexual health centres across Ireland are now increasing their screening hours and encouraging those concerned about STIs to get checked as soon as possible.
The increase in HIV cases, in particular, has worryingly taken place amid continuing campaigns for the improved availability and uptake of PrEP, or pre-exposure prophylaxis, a medication taken by HIV-negative people to significantly reduce the risk of getting HIV from sex.
For more information on HIV, testing, safer sex and support, visit HIV Ireland, ACT UP, Man2Man and Positive Now.
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