Surge of almost 45% in number of STIs reported in Ireland

In the first half of the year, the number of recorded cases of STIs in Ireland has risen by almost 45% compared to last year.

This article is about a surge in STIs cases in Ireland. In the picture, some test tubes on a yellow table.
Image: Via Unsplash - NCI

According to data published by the Health Protection Surveillance Centre (HPSC), the number of recorded sexually transmitted infections (STIs) cases in Ireland has increased by almost 45% in the first half of 2022, compared to the same period last year.

The Health Protection Surveillance Centre (HPSC) is the State’s infectious diseases monitoring body, which publishes reports on the number of recorded cases of HIV and STIs in Ireland every week. Reports between week 1 and week 27 of this year show that a total of 7,824 STIs cases were reported this year, revealing a 43% increase compared to the number of cases recorded last year in the same period, which amounted to 5,462.

The highest increase was reported in cases of HIV, which amounted to 413 this year. Cases of Lymphogranuloma venereum, an STI most commonly found in men who have sex with men, also showed a sharp increase. As for chlamydia, the most common STI type, 4,541 cases were recorded so far this year. The highest number of STIs cases were reported among people aged 20 to 24, with men making up a higher number than women.

It should be taken into account that, in the first half of last year, Covid-19 restrictions would have impacted testing. Prior to the pandemic, in the first half of 2019, cases of STIs in Ireland amounted to 7,280. Indeed, according to the EMERGE survey published by HIV Ireland earlier this year, the Covid crisis disrupted people’s ability to access HIV and STI testing, likely resulting in a lower number of recorded cases.

Another effect of the Covid-19 restrictions that might have impacted the increase in STIs cases is that once such restrictions were lifted, people got more opportunities to meet and socialise. Speaking to the Irish Times, chief executive of HIV Ireland Stephen O’Hare said “We have noticed that in the past six to eight weeks, since Easter, we are seeing a significantly higher number of newly notified cases of HIV. It would normally run at 10 to 12 a week, now we’re seeing it at about 30.”

He also identified another factor that might have had an impact on this increase namely the different migration patterns caused by the war in Ukraine, with many refugees coming to Ireland from there. “Ukraine has a significant problem with HIV. These figures relate to not just new transmission but also people who are living with HIV who are changing medical providers, so by coming to Ireland and registering with doctors, that could be a factor as well,” O’Hare said.

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