MSM is now the 'cornerstone' of HIV prevention strategies

Published: January 12, 2012

The high proportion of new HIV diagnoses among men who have sex with men (MSM) was now so high that measures directed at this group was now the cornerstone of HIV prevention strategies in Europe, according to the Health Protection Surveillance Centre (HPSC).

The Centre’s Director Dr Darina O’Flanagan said the highest proportion of new HIV diagnosis in Ireland in 2010 were among MSM, with 40.5 per cent of 331 newly-diagnosed HIV cases occurring in this category.

“This trend has been observed in many European countries to such an extent that the ECDC [European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control] now recommends that interventions to control HIV among MSM should be the cornerstone of HIV prevention strategies in Europe,” said Dr O’Flanagan.

While the number of new MSM cases (134) in 2010 was shown to be similar to 2009 (138), between 2005 and 2009, the annual number of new diagnoses in this group more than doubled, from 60 cases to 138.

Since 2002, when the number of heterosexual cases peaked at 232, there has been a general trend downwards among this group.

The median age of new MSM cases in 2010 was 34 years (range 20-62 years).

Of the 138 new cases, 67.9 per cent (9) were born in Western Europe and 6 per cent (8) were born in Central and Eastern Europe.

Of the new MSM cases, at the time of HIV diagnosis, 100 were asymptomatic, 11 were diagnosed with AIDS and four had acute HIV infection.

Overall, 331 new HIV diagnoses (240 men and 89 women and two unknown) were reported to the HSPC during 2010. This compared to 395 in 2009 and represents a 16.2 per cent decrease.

The mean rate of newly-diagnosed HIV infection in Ireland in 2010 was 7.8 per 100,000 population (11.3 per 100,000 men and 4.2 per 100,000 women).

There were 54 new AIDS diagnoses reported during 2010, and 10 deaths among AIDS cases reported.

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