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One in five HIV cases in NI are men over 45

21st February 2013

Doctors have voiced their concern after data revealed that a fifth of new cases of HIV in Northern Ireland are in men over the age of 45.

hivbloodtest

They have now started running clinics in gay clubs to try to reinforce the safe sex message and convince hard to reach groups of the importance of testing.

Dr Carol Emerson, a consultant specialising in sexual health at the Royal Victoria Hospital, said the outreach clinics in gay venues in Belfast were essential in ensuring the at-risk groups received full sexual advice and are aware of the importance of HIV testing.

She acknowledged that some people were finding it a “step too far” to attend a sexual health clinic but said that the move to bring the clinic into the community had “increased testing, increased knowledge and increased diagnoses.”

Reasons why people were reluctant to come forward, she said, were because of the continued stigma about being gay in Northern Ireland; some patients were also married and were having sex with men outside that relationship; while others simply ignored the safe sex messages and were too frightened to come forward.

Dr Emerson said: “We are seeing a range of people over 45 testing for different reasons and it may be that they’ve had a stable relationship for a period of time and that has broken down and now they’ve found a new lease of life and they've picked up a new infection and that's not just HIV – it’s the whole spectrum of sexual health.”

 

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