Dáil Éireann - Volume 506 - 03 June, 1999

Written Answers. - HIV and Hepatitis Incidences.

56. Mr. G. Mitchell asked the Minister for Health and Children if the incidents of HIV and hepatitis B and C are on the increase; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [14773/99]

Minister for Health and Children (Mr. Cowen): The number of cases of viral hepatitis type B and viral hepatitis unspecified notified to my Department for the years 1995 to 1998 under the Infectious Diseases Regulations 1981 is as follows:

1995

1996

1997

1998

Viral hepatitis

type B

11

11

31

119

Viral hepatitis

unspecified

66

67

122

125

[115] Precise information is not available on the number of cases of hepatitis C, which is not a separate disease for notification purposes.

Control of infectious diseases is the statutory responsibility of health boards, which are required to make arrangements for the diagnosis and treatment of persons with such diseases in their functional area. A multi-institutional study into the prevalence of hepatitis B in the population is currently underway and the results of this survey will be beneficial in relation to prevention and control of this disease. Hepatitis B vaccination is recommended for health care personnel, certain patients and their family contacts, security and emergency services personnel who may be at high risk, and susceptible members of high-risk groups. There is no vaccine available against hepatitis C.

The total number of cases of HIV at 31 December 1998 is 1,986. The yearly HIV statistics for recent years is as follows:

1990

111

1991

92

1992

201

1993

137

1994

85

1995

91

1996

106

1997

119

1998

136

The figures listed indicate that the numbers of cases of HIV have increased in recent years. These statistics show that we cannot become complacent about HIV-AIDS and that there is still a need for increased education and awareness to prevent the spread of the disease. The health promotion unit of my Department engages in a number of education programmes as follows: mass media campaign; emphasis on condom usage through TV and radio campaigns as a means of preventing the spread of HIV; convenience advertising involving the placement of AIDS awareness messages in washroom/toilet areas of third level colleges, women's' health clinics, selected entertainment venues etc. where they are guaranteed to be viewed by patrons entering these areas; AIDS resource materials for second level schools; and publication of guidelines for effective HIV-AIDS education.

The National AIDS Strategy Committee is undertaking a review of existing national policy on HIV-AIDS with a view to establishing an updated strategy to bring us into the millennium. One important area which will be addressed in this review is the issue of education and prevention.