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HIV Ireland launched by Minister Leo Varadkar on World AIDS Day

HIV Ireland Press Release 1st December 2015

HIV Ireland was officially launched on World AIDS Day, 1st December 2015, by the Minister for Health, Mr. Leo Varadkar. The change of name from Dublin AIDS Alliance to HIV Ireland is very much a reflection of the reality for the vast majority of people living with HIV in Ireland today – progression to AIDS is no longer inevitable. Given the significant improvements in medication and treatment over the last twenty years, people who contract HIV in 2015, and access treatment as soon as possible, can expect to live a normal healthy life.

Leo Varadkar TD, Minister for Health launching HIV Ireland today, World AIDS Day, in HIV Ireland. Pictured from left to right Stephen Rourke, Chair of HIV Ireland, Leo Varadkar TD, Minister for Health, Niall Mulligan, Executive Director of HIV Ireland and Erin Nugent Community Support Manager, HIV Ireland

Leo Varadkar TD, Minister for Health launching HIV Ireland today, World AIDS Day, in HIV Ireland. Pictured from left to right Stephen Rourke, Chair of HIV Ireland, Leo Varadkar TD, Minister for Health, Niall Mulligan, Executive Director of HIV Ireland and Erin Nugent Community Support Manager, HIV Ireland.

When launching the organisation, the Minister commended the re-branded organisation. “I think this re-branding is a positive step which can only build on all the good work it has performed so far. I wish them the very best for the future and I know their excellent work will continue. This is a very timely launch as the number of new HIV cases is rising year on year. The Government is funding a rapid HIV test in the main cities on a pilot basis, as part of the new Sexual Health Strategy. Testing is available free of charge at 20 locations across the State. But this event today will help to raise awareness and hopefully prompt more people to get tested. Early detection allows treatment to start early, it minimises the long-term health implications, and reduces potential new infections.”

 

The number of new HIV cases is rising year on year which is a real cause for concern. My Department is currently funding a rapid HIV test in the main cities on a pilot basis, as part of the new Sexual Health Strategy. STI screening is available free of charge at 20 locations across the State. However, it’s important that we raise awareness and detect as many undiagnosed cases as we can in order to get treatment early, minimise the long-term health implications, and reduce potential new infections.”

Leo Varadkar TD, Minister for Health Launching HIV Ireland today, World AIDS Day, in HIV Ireland. Pictured Leo Varadkar TD, Minister for Health with Niall Mulligan, Executive Director of HIV Ireland.

Speaking after the launch, Niall Mulligan, Executive Director of HIV Ireland emphasised one of the key challenges being the rising numbers of new HIV diagnoses in Ireland. ‘We cannot afford to become complacent. We must continually remind ourselves that as new HIV diagnoses increase in Ireland (427 new provisional diagnoses to date in 2015, an increase of 85 over this time last year – www.hpsc.ie), approximately 30% of people who are living with HIV in Ireland don’t actually know they are. Challenging stigma, encouraging safer sex and condom use and increasing access to testing must remain key Government priorities if we are to have any chance of reducing new HIV diagnoses over the coming years’.

 

Also speaking at the event was Dr. Erin Nugent, Community Support Co-ordinator with HIV Ireland, who launched the latest edition of ‘Living with HIV in Ireland – a Self-Help Guide’, an indispensable support for those who are living with HIV in Ireland today. The guide is available as a download on www.hivireland.ie. In launching the Guide, Dr. Nugent thanked Janssen pharmaceuticals for funding the project. She also spoke of how ‘the guide represents the human rights ethos of HIV Ireland. An ethos that centres on our core beliefs that people have a right to education, a right to make informed decisions and a right to be respected’.

 

HIV Ireland also announced some key pieces of work the organisation will be involved in during 2016 i.e. conducting a National HIV survey looking at stigma, discrimination, general awareness of HIV and public attitudes towards people living with HIV; expanding its HIV and STI Community Testing programme into the North East with support from the HSE National Social Inclusion department and increasing its work with the Sex Workers Alliance of Ireland and others to promote the health and rights of sex workers.

 

Equally, as a key partner with the Gay Health Network (GHN), HIV Ireland is delighted to be involved today in the launch of a new HIV awareness campaign, part of the joint HSE and GHN national Man2Man.ie programme.  HIV: Laid Bare is a new messaging campaign targeted at men who have sex with men and aims to increase knowledge about HIV prevention, about the positive effects of HIV medication in preventing the transmission of HIV and the importance of regular testing, and to challenge the stigma still experienced by MSM living with HIV.

 

HIV Ireland would like to thank all of its colleagues, funders and friends for their huge level of support over the last number of years and looks forward to working in partnership with others to ensure that everything that can be done will be done to support people living with HIV in Ireland.

 

For information about HIV, testing, safer sex and support please visit – www.hivireland.ie; www.man2man.ie; www.positivenow.ie

 

End

For further information, please contact:

 

Niall Mulligan,

Executive Director

HIV Ireland

70 Eccles Street

Dublin 7

 

Mobile:  085 7457951

Tel: 01 8733799

Email: niall.mulligan@hivireland.ie

www.hivireland.ie

 

HIV Ireland Information

 

HIV Ireland is a registered charity operating at local, National and European level. The principal aim of the organisation is too improve, through a range of support services, conditions for people living with HIV and AIDS and/or Hepatitis, their families and their caregivers while further promoting sexual health in the general population.

 

Our mission and vision is to contribute towards a significant reduction in the incidence and prevalence of HIV in Ireland and towards the realisation of an AIDS-free generation by advocating for individuals living with HIV, preventing new HIV infections and combating HIV-related stigma and discrimination.

 

Since 1987 HIV Ireland (formerly Dublin AIDS Alliance) has been pioneering services in sexual health education and promotion, and has consistently engaged in lobbying and campaigning in the promotion of human rights. Our approach broadly reflects a harm minimisation model which emphasises practical rather than idealised goals. In relation to practical service provision we currently operate under two headings

A) Community Support

  • Counselling
  • 1-1 Support
  • Advocacy
  • Community Outreach Work
  • HIV & STI Community Testing
  • Capacity Building with People Living with HIV

B) Prevention, Education & Training

  • One day workshops on HIV, STI’s and Sexual Health
  • Sexual Health Training for Trainers Programme (Let’s Talk About…..Safer Sex)
  • Free Condom Service (Just Carry One Campaign)
  • Social Media work and campaigning
  • Network Involvement