AIDS West are to offer Free Confidential Rapid HIV Testing on the last Tuesday of each month at the Teach Solais Centre, Merchants Road, Galway starting Tuesday 31 January 2017. AIDS West report that the numbers of new diagnoses of HIV in Ireland continues to rise annually with the latest comprehensive report available from Health Protection Surveillance Centre (HSPC) for year ending 2015 indicating that there was a 25% increase in new diagnoses over the previous year of 2014. Additionally, the European Centre for Disease Prevention & Control states that the 2015 figure indicates a rate of 10.6 per 100,000 population – the highest rate ever reported in Ireland. Evidence and research from the World Health Organisation indicates that a third of people living with HIV do not know that they are HIV Positive, therefore are more likely to pass on the infection unknowingly.
These extremely worrying figures are of great concern to AIDS West, as this clearly demonstrates that the numbers of people being newly diagnosed with HIV is rising at a rapid rate. AIDS West Manager Joe McDonagh outlined ‘we are working closely with our colleagues in the Infectious Disease Clinic at University Hospital Galway as we are very aware that there is considerable under detection/reporting of HIV, therefore there is a much greater need for access to free HIV testing’.
AIDS West Support Service Co-ordinator Ger Coy outlines the need to regularly test for HIV if someone is sexually active, ‘HIV prevention is an essential part of our work and we encourage everyone to be aware of their HIV status. Once a person is diagnosed it’s important to start treatment immediately so as to decrease the impact of the virus and to reduce the chance of onward transmission of the virus’.