Home > The changing epidemiology of HIV infection in injecting drug users in Dublin, Ireland.

Clarke, Susan and Keenan, Eamon and Bergin, C and Lyons, F and Hopkins, S and Mulcahy, Fiona (2001) The changing epidemiology of HIV infection in injecting drug users in Dublin, Ireland. HIV Medicine, 2, (4), pp. 236-240.

Ireland's National Disease Surveillance Centre (NDSC) reported that by December 1999 2195 people had tested HIV positive in Ireland. Injecting drug users (IDUs) represent 41.6% of the total. This proportion had increased significantly during the year. This study examines the changes in the epidemiology of HIV disease in IDUs and looks at potential aetiological facts. The authors examined all data relating to new HIV diganoses occurring in IDUs referred to the GenitoUrinary Medicine and Infectious Diseases (GUIDE) clinic in St James's Hospital, Dublin between 1987 and 2000. 6-month incidence rates of new HIV diagnoses in referred IDUs were calculated and a more detailed analysis of patients diagnosed bewtween January 1999 and December was performed, documenting age, sex, time and place of diagnosis, drug use history and primary drug of misuse, needle sharing history, attendance at a drug treatment centre, prior HIV testing history, hepatitis B and hepatitis C status, and CD4 cell counts and HIV RNA levels at diagnosis.

There was a fivefold increase in the number of new HIV diagnoses in IDUs between 1995 and 2000. 40% of patients diagnosed since then have been under 22 years old. The male to female ratio seen in the initial epidemic of the 1980s has been reversed. The study concludes that there had been a significant increase in the incidence of HIV infection in IDUs between 1995 and 2000. Similar trends have been described in other risk groups. No single theory can explaing the recent upsurge. A concerted effort to improve health education to reduce risky behavious is required.

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