Statement by Minister Moffatt for Irish Aids Day
Dr Tom Moffatt TD, Minister of State at the Department of Health and Children and Chairman of the National AIDS Strategy Committee (NASC), today, Irish AIDS Day, emphasised his Department´s commitment to keeping HIV/AIDS issues as a high priority. Recent figures published by the National Disease Surveillance Centre, show the highest annual number of new reported HIV cases (342) since reporting commenced in 1985. Figures for newly reported cases of AIDS continue on a downward trend (21 new cases in 2000). This trend is most likely due to the effectiveness of Highly Active Antiretroviral Treatment.
The highest increases in HIV figures are in the heterosexual (125 new cases) and homosexual transmission categories (72 new cases), while the number of new cases linked with IV drug use is similar to 1999 (70). The Minister stressed that efforts must be renewed and strengthened at all levels to create a greater awareness of the risk factors linked with HIV and aimed at preventing people becoming infected.
HIV is preventable. Routine Antenatal testing of HIV is proving successful in identifying HIV positive mothers at an early stage in pregnancy. If HIV is diagnosed during pregnancy and appropriate treatment administered the chance of the baby being infected with the virus can be reduced by up to 66%. All of the pregnant women treated up to the end of last year have delivered babies who, while they were exposed to HIV during pregnancy, are not now infected with HIV. “This fact, clearly shows the effectiveness of early diagnosis and treatment and should be an additional stimulus to all to ensure maximum uptake of antenatal HIV testing” said the Minister.
The Minister published AIDS Strategy 2000 last year which makes recommendations for action over the next few years. “Progress to date has been achieved through successful partnership between statutory and voluntary agencies and also involving people with HIV. I look forward to this continuing partnership in the challenging work ahead of us” said the Minister.