Róisín Shortall TD, the co-leader of the Social Democrats has called on the government to prioritise the introduction of anti-HIV drugs as new figures show the rates of HIV infection continue to rise at alarming levels.

Deputy Shortall said: “According to figures from the HSE, there were 508 new cases of HIV in Ireland last year,  this is an increase of 5% on 2015. Further delays in the signing off on the use of these drugs simply makes no sense when they have shown to be effective and clinically safe elsewhere.

“PrEP, or pre-exposure prophylactics have been credited with a nosedive in HIV infection rates in the UK and elsewhere, meanwhile here infection rates continue to rise steadily.

‘There is no sense of urgency here,’ Deputy Shortall continued, ‘while we know that HIV is now treatable, it is still a very serious condition. Many people are now self-sourcing PrEP drugs online from outside the country, the absence of a proper framework or clinical guidelines for their use is simply putting people at risk for no reason.

“Customs have also seized large quantities of these drugs that people have ordered.  While it clearly isn’t safe to source medicines in this way, it shows how far out of step we are in terms of our sexual health policies and how desperate people are to protect themselves. The simple fact is that HIV infection rates can be dramatically cut with PrEP. The Government need to act to ensure this happens without further delay.”

ENDS

20th October 2017