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A story on Newstalk.com today suggests that the HIV virus may be mutating in a milder direction. This is welcome news, particularly for parts of the world where access to treatment is still uncertain and where prevention behaviour is still not the norm. At present, that would include the Republic of Ireland.
In Ireland, very many people only discover that they are HIV positive either when they are tested for some other sexually transmitted infection that has been made evident by sores. For example, according to the statistics for 2013 in the Health Protection Surveillance Centre’s (HPSC) report, nearly half of all men who have sex with men (MSM) receiving an HIV diagnosis, do so at the same time as being found to be infected with other STIs. For people reporting heterosexual activity as the most likely route of HIV transmission, only about one quarter are given a diagnosis with another STI at this time.
In Ireland, then, it may be that people are not accessing treatment as early as they might. This is reinforced by another feature of the HIV diagnoses in Ireland. Very many of the infections are only diagnosed relatively late when the virus has already done extensive damage to the immune system of the patient. In this respect, MSM seem to be acting in a more responsible manner than the generality of HIV-infected persons.
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