The figures recently released by Northern Ireland’s Public Health Agency show some worrying figures. I sincerely hope that the Health Minister, Simon Hamilton MLA, and the Health Committee of the Northern Ireland Assembly take them to heart and work to make them better.
The figures show that in the ten years since 2004, Northern Ireland has had a 47% increase in new HIV diagnoses compared with a UK reduction of 20%. In the last five years, Northern Ireland has the greatest increase of new HIV diagnoses among the four countries of the UK at 36%, compared with the overall reduction of 8%.
It seems that England and Scotland are doing very well in reducing HIV diagnoses. Both Wales and Northern Ireland need to work on what they are doing. I am sure that The Rainbow Project and Positive Life will have ideas on how to promote better sexual health. Hopefully the PHA’s own public information campaign launched earlier this year,
‘Choose to protect yourself – always use a condom’,
which encourages people to take steps to look after their sexual health will help. For information on this, the symptoms of HIV and STIs (as well as information on conditions which may have no symptoms), and for details of Northern Ireland GUM clinics, visit www.sexualhealthni.info.