In a new study, The Irish News has found that people in the north of the country are most at risk of contracting HIV.
The study, which surveyed 1,000 people, also found that Irish people who live in the south of the nation are most prone to contracting the virus.
The study, published on Thursday, examined data from the Irish Department of Health’s National Health Survey, a national population-based survey.
It found that the median age of people in Northern Ireland who were at risk was 31 years, with the highest proportion of people over the age of 50, at 25.
The researchers also noted that those aged 18-24 years were the most likely age group to have had sex, with a median of 35.
The highest percentage of people who were HIV-positive was among people aged 50-64.
The average number of sexual partners was four, with five or more people having sex at least once a week.
“The prevalence of HIV is increasing, which is a concern for many of us,” said Dr Helen Collins, a researcher at the Department of Public Health.
“While we’ve got a great population to work with, we also have a lot of people to deal with and some of them may be living in the shadows of HIV in the UK and Northern Ireland, so we need to get a better sense of what’s happening here.”
Dr Collins said she believed the number of HIV-negative people living in Northern Irish communities was greater than the number living in areas of high HIV prevalence.
She said the study also found people living further away from Dublin were at a greater risk of being infected with the virus than people living closer to the city.
Dr Collins told The Irish Sun that the high number of infections in Northern and English-speaking areas was largely due to people living at a higher socio-economic level.
“A lot of that is due to the fact that there are a lot more people here who have a better quality of life,” she said.
“People who are living in Dublin and working in Dublin are going to have a lower risk of becoming infected, but those living in Galway, the people who are just going to live in Louth and Donegal and Limerick are going be at a much higher risk.”
Dr Thomas Walsh, a consultant epidemiologist at the University of Limerick, said the findings were significant.
“These are high-risk areas,” he said.
“These are areas where a lot people are living, so they are at higher risk of transmission.”
This study shows that there is a very high prevalence of infections at high socio-cultural and income levels in these areas.
“We can see that there has been a dramatic change in social conditions, with people who have been living in those areas for many years have become increasingly less likely to transmit.”
What’s happening is that the prevalence of infection is increasing at high social, economic and educational levels in those communities, which means that the number that are living at high risk is growing.