Northern Ireland

HIV: 94 new cases detected in Northern Ireland in year

HIV testing kit
Image caption More than half of HIV diagnoses in NI are made at a late stage, making it harder to treat.

Ninety four new cases of HIV were diagnosed in Northern Ireland in the past year, according to the Public Health Agency (PHA).

Eight hundred and nine people are now living with HIV in Northern Ireland, a rise of nearly 10% compared with the previous year.

More than half of HIV diagnoses in NI are made at a late stage, making it harder to treat.

The PHA report was prepared ahead of Tuesday's World Aids Day.

The rise in the number of people with the virus reflects both new diagnoses and the increased survival rates associated with anti-retroviral treatment.

Although prevalence in Northern Ireland remains lower than in the rest of the UK, the percentage increase in annual new diagnoses between 2000 and 2014 is the highest of the countries in the UK.

The key routes of transmission remain sexual contact involving men who have sex with men and between men and women.

Dr Neil Irvine, consultant in Public Health with the PHA, said: "Many people could be infected with HIV without knowing it, so it is important to take steps to help protect yourself and reduce the spread of the infection.

"Statistics show that 51% of new HIV diagnoses were made at a late stage.

"If you've put yourself at risk it is really important to get tested for HIV to ensure an early diagnosis.

"People respond better to treatment when they are diagnosed at an earlier stage of disease."

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