There were 491 new HIV diagnoses reported in Ireland in 2015. That’s more than in any previous year and an increase of about 30% from the number reported in 2014.
That’s a significant and worrying rise in new diagnoses, urgently deserving of a serious response.
But for the Irish Times that unprecedented 30% rise wasn’t dramatic enough. Citing preliminary figures from the first few months of 2016 the IT reported an even more alarming 75% increase in reported diagnoses compared to last year!
The first appearance of this figure was an headline in early April that declared “HIV cases up by 75% this year, HSE report finds.” Another IT article from mid-June repeated the claim of “an increase of 75 per cent,” as did yet another article just yesterday.
This figure has been echoed uncritically by other sources, as in a June 24 post at theoutmost.com (the web presence of Dublin’s month gay lifestyle magazine GCN) that reported that new diagnoses had “increased by 75% in the first three months of this year alone.”
Other outlets made similar claims though phrased differently. TheJournal.ie breathlessly reported in May that new diagnoses “almost doubled in the first four months of 2016,” although they seemed confused about the numbers, describing an increase from 106 to 175 as “about 40%” (it’s actually 65%). The Irish Examiner at least got the math right with the same figures.
So is it true? Are this year’s figures showing an increase more than twice the already huge increase from last year?
In a word, no.