The number of new HIV cases among men who have sex with men (MSM) in Northern Ireland reached a record-high of 53 last year, according to a World AIDS Day report from the Public Health Agency (PHA). Most of the infections were acquired within the United Kingdom, according to "HIV and STI Surveillance in Northern Ireland 2011."
Overall, the country saw 79 new HIV cases last year, representing a 20 percent increase. Most transmissions were linked to unprotected sex.
Since 2009, new STI diagnoses increased 6 percent. By infection:
gonorrhea increased 13 percent;
genital herpes (first episode), 18 percent;
genital warts (first episode), 2 percent;
non-specific genital infection, 14 percent.
"We want to take the opportunity presented by World AIDS Day to raise awareness about HIV and STIs. While young people and [MSM] are particularly at risk, the safer-sex message applies to everyone," said Dr. Neil Irvine, a consultant for PHA. "Use condoms, limit your number of partners and get checked at your [general practitioner] surgery or your local genitourinary medicine clinic if you have put yourself at risk."
"We know people may be infected with HIV and STIs without having any symptoms, so it is important to protect yourself and to stop the spread of infection to others," said Irvine
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