Review of Sexual Health Strategy timely given rising HIV and STI rates, says charity

Press Release: For immediate release

HIV Ireland has today welcomed the publication of the review of the National Sexual Health Strategy as timely, noting the continued reported rise in rates of HIV and STIs in Ireland. The review was commissioned by the Department of Health in advance of the preparation of a new National Sexual Health strategy for Ireland.

Speaking following the publication of the review by Minster of State with responsibility for Public Health, Wellbeing and the National Drugs Strategy, Hildegarde Naughton TD, Executive Director of HIV Ireland Mr Stephen O’Hare said “The review paves the way for the development of the long-overdue update to the National Sexual Health Strategy following the expiry of the previous strategy in 2020.

Real and substantial efforts must be made to ensure the voices of service users, community organisations, and services providers are included at every stage of the strategy development process.”

Reflecting on the 32 recommendations contained in the review Mr O’Hare said “We are pleased to see so many of the concerns raised by community organisations and sexual health services reflected in the proposals for the development of a new strategy. These include a proposed model of care for HIV and STI services; increased access and availability of PrEP to prevent HIV; improvements in relationship and sexuality education for children and young people; addressing issues relating to chemsex; and improvements to abortion and reproductive services,” he added.

The review, which was undertaken by the independent consultancy firm Crowe, found that of 56 priority actions identified in the previous strategy, progress had been made on the implementation of 49 actions (87%).

The review also examined strategies in three other EU member states, France, Spain and the Netherlands, and consulted with key stakeholders from clinical, community and representative organisations including HIV Ireland and others prior to formulating its recommendations.

“The emphasis must now be on developing a comprehensive, evidence-based, and culturally appropriate National Sexual Health Strategy,” continued Mr O’Hare, “incorporating best practices, ensuring adequate resources, and a responsive approach to the evolving landscape of sexuality and sexual health service provision in Ireland.”

“This should include alignment with existing policy commitments, including the global Fast Track Cities initiative, to combat rising rates of HIV and end new HIV transmission and HIV-related stigma by 2030.” he added.

The Health Protection Surveillance Centre has reported a continuation of the rise in newly notified cases of HIV and STIs, following the steady rise witnessed in 2022. By the end of week 11 (18 March 2023) there had been a reported 91 percent increase in notified cases of HIV on the same period last year, with significant increases in chlamydia (53%) and gonorrhoea (187%) also reported.


Notes to Editors

For interview, please contact Stephen O’Hare, Executive Director of HIV Ireland on 0857112635 email

The Review of the National Sexual Health Strategy (2023) is available here.

Health protection Surveillance Centre weekly data on HIV and STI cases is available here.

Previous National Sexual Health Strategy 2015-2020 is available here.