Press Release

Minister of State Moffatt launches report of the National AIDS Strategy Committee “AIDS Strategy 2000”

The report of the National AIDS Strategy Committee, entitled AIDS Strategy 2000 was launched by Dr Tom Moffatt TD, Minister of State at the Department of Health and Children, today, 22 June 2000.

Pointing out that the epidemiology of HIV infection and AIDS related illnesses has changed over the years of the pandemic, Minister Moffatt, who is chairperson of the National AIDS Strategy Committee (NASC) said We have now moved to a situation where, with Highly Active Anti Retroviral Treatment, HIV infection and AIDS are becoming chronic illnesses for many individuals. The Committee welcomes these changes with a note of caution, however. Although the overall incidence of AIDS has plateaued in Europe and the developed world new HIV infections continue to be reported. Figures for new cases of HIV in Ireland 1999 reached an all time high of 209 cases. This is unacceptable since HIV infection is largely preventable. Of these new cases drug misusers represented 33%, heterosexuals 28% and homosexuals 19%. The statistics, which are more than likely an under-representation of the true extent of incidence of HIV in the population signal the need for renewed action on all fronts to tackle the problem

This Report comprises the reports of the four Sub-Committees of the National Committee, that is Surveillance, Education and Prevention, Care and Management and Discrimination. Submissions were invited from the general public through the placing of an advertisement in the main daily newspapers.

In the report each of the Sub-Committees examines progress made since 1992 and make recommendations for future action, which have been endorsed by the National Committee. An important point to emerge from the reports is that HIV/AIDS should now be dealt with in the wider context of sexual health and other sexually transmitted infections.

Minister Moffatt went on to say in the eight years since the publication of the first NASC report, significant progress has been made in developing policies, programmes and services to respond to the HIV/AIDS pandemic. However, much remains to be done and we must continue with our efforts to ensure that we minimise the numbers of people putting themselves at risk of contracting HIV/AIDS and that we have in place a comprehensive range of services for those unfortunate enough to succumb to the illness.

The introduction of routine antenatal testing for HIV last year means that where a pregnant woman tests positive for HIV she can avail of treatments which gretly improve the outcome for herself and her baby. One of the challenges of the future is to have as high an uptake as possible for this programme.

Minister Moffatt paid tribute to all those who had contributed to the Report and gave freely of their time to sit on the sub-committeess There are many challenges for the future, as is evident by the large number of recommendations of the four sub-committeess. I wish to thank all those involved in this process and to convey the Government’s continued committment to HIV/AIDS.