While HIV prevalence remains greatest in sub-Saharan Africa, with two-thirds of the world’s 33.3 million cases located there, of the 33 countries in which the incidence of new cases fell by more than 25 per cent between 2001 and 2009, 22 are in sub-Saharan Africa, the result not only of the natural arc of the epidemic, but also of the success of prevention strategies. Of the seven countries in which incidence increased by more than 25 per cent, five are in eastern Europe and central Asia.
While the incidence of HIV has declined globally, it has more than doubled in Ireland since 1999, from 190 new cases reported then to 395 last year, which brought the cumulative total reported here to 5,637. Those diagnosed with HIV in Ireland last year ranged in age from 18 to 80, with a median age of 35.6. Two-thirds were men, and of 137 women diagnosed, 25 were pregnant.
HIV incidence among sub-Saharan Africans living here, which peaked at 183 new cases in 2003, has fed into the rise, as has a threefold increase in incidence among homosexual men between 2004 and 2009, from 46 cases to 138 – last year’s figure representing a rise of 42.3 per cent on the 2008 figure of 97. Most of these men (63 per cent) were born in Ireland, the Health Protection Surveillance Centre says, and they most likely acquired HIV here.
Thirty-three new cases of Aids were reported in the State last year, bringing the cumulative total to 1,038. Two people with Aids died last year, bringing the total to 414.
Since 1997, more than €7 million in extra funding has been provided for HIV and Aids treatment here. At the international level, the government undertook in 2005 to double spending to €10 million annually, and by last year the total spending on HIV, Aids and other communicable diseases had reached €114 million, proportionally among the most generous in the world, and far ahead of such parsimonious countries as Italy and Japan.