News

HIV is on the rise in Dublin

NewsBy Shuki Byrne
It is thought the number of new cases could be linked to the injection of former head shop drug mephedrone and the abuse of tranquillizers called benzodiazepines
It is thought the number of new cases could be linked to the injection of former head shop drug mephedrone and the abuse of tranquillizers called benzodiazepines

The HSE has launched an investigation into the rising number of cases of HIV in Dublin city.

The Health Service says there have been 13 new cases of the virus since 2014, nine of which have occurred this year. 

This has prompted an investigation and special intervention group has been set up to probe the worrying increase. 

It is thought the number of new cases could be linked to the injection of former head shop drug mephedrone and the abuse of tranquillizers called benzodiazepines, the Irish Examiner reports. 

A statement from the HSE said explained control measures have been in place by all clinics and health services aimed at increasing awareness about safe drug administering and safe sex. 

"The HSE is conducting an epidemiological study which includes newly infected persons to examine possible risk factors and enable us to make recommendations for control," the HSE said. 
 
"The HSE is also supporting those not on methadone to engage with services, enhancing treatment for those diagnosed with HIV and promoting access to safe needles/syringes and condoms across the services and networks."
 
Director of the Ana Liffey Drug Project, Tony Duffin, said that urgent action and the proper resources are needed to address the issue. 
 
"This means being proactive in supporting people who inject drugs to access testing and treatment, in addition to ensuring that needle and syringe programme coverage nationally is sufficient both in terms of accessibility and equipment available," he said.
 
"We also need to be able to reach isolated drug users to provide them with appropriate treatment options."
 
The HSE recently confirmed that heroin users will be supplied with a life-saving antidote for overdoses along with training on how to administer it.
 
The test project involved supplying 600 addicts with the antidote and training for them and their loved ones as to how to use the pre-filled syringe. 
 
It will also include those who have recently been released from custody that have been identified by authorities as being at high risk of overdose.
 
These drug users and those close to them have been trained on how to administer naloxone and to recognise the signs of an overdose, the Health Minister said. 
 
"This project could make an enormous difference when it comes to reducing drug-related deaths," said Leo Varadkar.
 
In 2012 alone, 350 people died of an overdose with 220 of those deaths involving heroin and methadone. 
 
"I have no doubt that lives will be saved as a result of this initiative," Drugs Minister Aodhán Ó Ríordáin said. 
 
Tony Duffin said: "There is the equivalent of a fatal overdose every day in Ireland. The HSE is working with Ana Liffey and other agencies to provide naloxone to a group of intravenous drug users who are at significant risk of overdose."