A total of 531 people were diagnosed with HIV (human immunodeficiency virus) in Ireland in 2018, hitting a record high since such records were available in 2003, according to the latest official figures.
A report published by Ireland's Health Protection Surveillance Center (HPSC) its website earlier this week showed that the number of new HIV cases detected in the country last year represented an 8-percent increase over the 2017 figure, which stood at 492 cases.
The report failed to give a further detailed analysis of the figures.
Statistics from the HPSC, a government body for monitoring communicable diseases in Ireland, showed that out of the 512 people diagnosed with HIV in the country in 2016, 77 percent were male and 23 percent female.
Nearly half of the new HIV cases found in the year resulted from sex between men while nearly a fifth came after heterosexual sex, said the HPSC, adding that just 4 percent of the cases were reported from people who inject drugs.
The source of nearly a third of all the cases remained unknown, according to the HPSC.
Local media on Friday quoted Andrew Leavitt, a member of a local anti-AIDS organization, as saying that "Seeing HIV diagnoses in Ireland like this is simply unacceptable."
"We've been waiting for PrEP (Pre-exposure prophylaxis) in Ireland, and this is the predictable result of the delay," he said.
PrEP is a medical method for people at high risk for HIV. It can stop HIV from taking hold and spreading throughout one's body. It is highly effective for preventing HIV if used as prescribed, but it is much less effective when not taken consistently.
PrEP is now only available in Ireland on prescription at a price which can not be afforded by the general public.