HIV Ireland calls for Government action as national survey finds stigma continues to impact on people living with HIV

Press Release – 28th September 2017

HIV Ireland calls for Government action as national survey finds stigma continues to impact on people living with HIV

17 per cent of HIV positive people say they have felt suicidal in the last year.

HIV Ireland is calling on the Government to provide additional resources for HIV prevention, education and care after its ‘HIV in Ireland Survey 2017’ revealed the impact that stigma continues to have on people living with the condition in this country. The survey, one of the most significant pieces of research on stigma and HIV knowledge to be carried out in Ireland in over a decade, will be launched this morning (28.09.17) at HIV Ireland’s 30th Anniversary National Conference on HIV and Stigma. Among its findings are that 17 per cent of people living with HIV said they felt suicidal in the last year; a quarter are not comfortable with their own HIV positive status; more than half are single, and a third had experienced being rejected in a relationship due to their HIV status.

Commenting, HIV Ireland’s executive director, Niall Mulligan said: “This survey is of crucial importance in highlighting the need for policy makers and politicians to understand the impact that HIV-related stigma is having on people living with the condition. When 17 per cent of people living with HIV say they have felt suicidal in the last year, compared to a national average of four per cent, it’s time to open our eyes to the damage that HIV-related stigma is having on people’s lives. The Government urgently needs to provide additional resources within the areas of HIV prevention, education, community testing, counselling, mediation and human rights advocacy.”

The ‘HIV in Ireland 2017 Survey’ was undertaken to identify levels of knowledge, and attitudes to HIV, within the whole population, as well as recording the experiences of people living with HIV. Some 1,013 people responded to the general survey and 168 people responded to the survey specifically for people living with HIV.

Among the general population, the research found varying degrees of knowledge about HIV. Younger people were found to have less correct knowledge than older people, though they were also more likely to be welcoming of someone living with HIV.

Key findings in the survey include:

  • 98 per cent of respondents correctly thought that HIV can be transmitted by sharing needles or syringes, and a similar percentage were aware it can be passed on through sex without a condom.
  • 20 per cent of 18-to-24-year olds incorrectly thought HIV can be passed from person to person through the sharing of a public toilet seat (compared to 10% of those over 24).
  • 24 per cent of people incorrectly believe that HIV can be transmitted by kissing, while 11 per cent incorrectly thought it could be transmitted through coughing or sneezing.
  • 10 per cent of people stated that they wouldn’t feel comfortable working with a colleague who was HIV positive.
  • 54 per cent of people living with HIV are single.
  • 98 per cent of respondents agreed that ‘young people should be taught about HIV transmission during secondary school’.

HIV stigma affects the wider community according to Mr Mulligan. “Negative, or misinformed attitudes to HIV, and towards people living with HIV, can create obstacles for people getting tested. UNAIDS estimates that across Europe, 15 per cent of people living with HIV aren’t aware of their condition. It is crucial that we remove as many barriers as possible to people getting tested. Stigma is one of those barriers”.

He added: “This conference marks the 30th anniversary of HIV Ireland. In the ’80s and ’90s during the AIDS epidemic there was much fear, misinformation and indignity for people living with HIV. Thirty years on, with the continued improvements in HIV treatment, the landscape has changed dramatically, with people diagnosed with HIV now living longer and healthier lives. It is now scientifically accepted that people living with HIV who are compliant with treatment, and have an undetectable viral load, will not pass on HIV to sexual partners. This survey gives us hope for the future when we see increased interest in HIV education within our schools, and a strong acceptance of people living with HIV. In particular, the survey findings highlight the need for increased resources to meet the needs of people living with HIV.”

The conference will be opened by Minister of State at the Department of Health with responsibility for Health Promotion and the National Drugs Strategy, Catherine Byrne TD. She said: “I commend the work that HIV Ireland has undertaken over the past 30 years, and want to pay tribute to all the staff and volunteers at the heart of the organisation. Last year alone, HIV Ireland supported more than 2,000 interventions for people living with HIV. The Government through the HSE continues to provide annual funding to HIV Ireland for the important work that it undertakes in the areas of support for people living with HIV and for the promotion of sexual health in the general population.’

“However, I am concerned about the continuing increase in new HIV diagnoses, and I’m aware that the late diagnosis of HIV continues to be an issue. This is one of the reasons why the Government provided funding to pilot KnowNow Rapid Testing, a peer-led point-of-care HIV testing initiative in pubs and clubs as part of the National Sexual Health Strategy. Along with the National Drugs Strategy, the ongoing implementation of the National Sexual Health Strategy reaffirms the commitment of the Department of Health to continue to support the work of community organisations like HIV Ireland in their response to increasing HIV figures.”

The one-day conference will explore the history of HIV, stigma and social inclusion in addiction, homelessness, sex work, the LGBT community, the migrant community, and people living with HIV in Ireland since 1987. Speakers include LGBT campaigner Tonie Walsh; Dr Maeve Foreman of Trinity College Dublin; Dr Austin O’Carroll of SafetyNet; Kate McGrew of the Sex Workers Alliance of Ireland, and Tony Duffin of the Ana Liffey Drug Project. Founder of the Irish NAMES Project, Mary Shannon will present the story behind the Irish AIDS Quilt, made by families affected by HIV in Ireland.

Further information on the conference and survey findings is available at www.hivireland.ie.

ENDS.

Contact: Joanne Ahern / Louise Archbold, DHR Communications, Tel: 01-4200580 / 087-9881837 / 087-2601145.

Notes to Editors:

  • Interviews available on request.
  • Photographer Nick Bradshaw will issue photos to picture desks on Thursday afternoon.
  • The ‘HIV in Ireland 2017’ report comprises the findings from two surveys, conducted between March and May 2017. The general population survey was disseminated by Empathy Research as part of an omnibus survey amongst members of their proprietary research panel and was representative of gender, age and location in Ireland. Survey respondents were required to be at least 18 years of age and the survey was completed by 1,013 people (margin of error +/- 3.2 per cent). The People Living with HIV Stigma Survey was designed by Quality Matters and disseminated through social media channels, through HIV support agencies and health services. Survey respondents were required to be at least 18 years of age and to have received a diagnosis of HIV infection. The survey was completed by 168 respondents.

 

LGBT activist calls for national AIDS memorial

PRESS RELEASE

 

Sunday, 24th September 2017

 

LGBT activist calls for national AIDS memorial

 

LGBT activist Tonie Walsh has called on the Government to fund an Irish AIDS Memorial to honour those who have died from AIDS in Ireland, as well as their caregivers and activists. Mr Walsh will outline his vision at this week’s HIV Ireland National Conference on HIV and Stigma. The conference, which marks the 30th anniversary of HIV Ireland, will take place at Smock Alley Theatre in Dublin on Thursday, 28th September 2017.

 

Speaking ahead of the conference, Mr Walsh said: “More than 35 million people have died from AIDS worldwide, and unfortunately, people are still dying of AIDS. I am calling on the Government to support a permanent and prominent national AIDS memorial to remember those who have died, but also to acknowledge those who have worked to improve their lives.

 

“A place of memory is so important for the mobilisation of a community and of our society, as memorialising our loss and grief allows us to better value and share the coping mechanisms and survival strategies of a previous generation. In seeking a national AIDS memorial, I look to cities such as Toronto, New York, and Durban, which all have visually striking memorials.”

 

He added: “I would like to see a consultation process of stakeholders in civil society regarding the design, procurement and siting of the monument. With due process, and the goodwill of Government and the public sector, I would hope this physical totem could become a reality within the next five years.”

 

Mr Walsh, who is the curator of Irish Queer Archive, is also seeking the digitisation and open access of archives of HIV Ireland, GAY Health Action and HIV/ AIDS-related documents held in the collections of the Irish Queer Archive at the National Library of Ireland. A selection of archive material will be on display at the conference on Thursday.

 

Supporting the call for a national AIDS memorial, Executive Director of HIV Ireland, Niall Mulligan said: “Nearly 8,000 people in Ireland have been diagnosed with HIV since the early 1980s, and while improvements in treatment have greatly enhanced people’s life expectancy and their quality of life, significant stigma still exists around being HIV positive. A recent survey we conducted among people living with HIV in Ireland found more than half of those polled had not disclosed their HIV status at some point as they were afraid they would be discriminated against.

 

“A national AIDS memorial would recognise the lives lost, the grief and sorrow of those left behind, as well as acting as a reminder that there is still work to do to eliminate new HIV infections in Ireland, and combatting HIV-related stigma and discrimination.”

 

The one-day conference will explore the history of HIV, stigma and social inclusion in addiction, homelessness, sex work, the LGBT community, the migrant community, and people living with HIV in Ireland since 1987. The findings of the ‘HIV in Ireland 2017’ survey will also be launched.

 

ENDS.

 

Contact: Joanne Ahern (until 3pm) / Louise Archbold (after 3pm), DHR Communications, Tel: 087-9881837 / 087-2601145.

 

Notes to Editors:

  • Niall Mulligan is available for interview.

 

About HIV Ireland:

 

HIV Ireland is a registered charity operating at local, national and European level. The principal aim of the organisation is to 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 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.

 

HIV Ireland, and Gay Health Network, call for PrEP in response to HIV crisis -Ten new HIV diagnoses every week in Ireland –

PRESS RELEASE – Wednesday 14th June release date

HIV Ireland, and Gay Health Network, call for PrEP in response to HIV crisis
-Ten new HIV diagnoses every week in Ireland –

Wednesday 14th June 2017

HIV Ireland, and the Gay Health Network are calling for Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis (PrEP) to be made available in Ireland through the Health Service Executive’s general medical scheme (GMS). PrEP is a once daily medication that, in combination with safer-sex practices, has been proven to significantly reduce the risk of sexually acquired HIV-1 infection among uninfected adults at high risk.

In response to the ongoing HIV crisis in Ireland, HIV Ireland and the Gay Health Network issued the call on Irish AIDS Day, 15th June, at the launch of a key policy options review paper conducted by Dr. Ann Nolan (International Development Specialist).

With new HIV diagnoses in Ireland increasing to their highest level on record in 2016, a joint statement from Noel Sutton, Chairperson of the Gay Health Network, and Niall Mulligan, Executive Director of HIV Ireland stated; ‘‘HIV Ireland and the Gay Health Network are calling for Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis (PrEP) to be made a public health priority in Ireland. New HIV diagnoses nationally have increased by 35% since 2011. A total of 512 people were newly diagnosed as living with HIV in 2016, compared with 485 in 2015 [www.hpsc.ie – provisional data]. Of particular concern is the continued high level of new diagnoses amongst men who have sex with men (MSM). To reverse this alarming upward trend, PrEP must be introduced as a key HIV prevention intervention’.

Dr. Nolan added that “The message to the Health Service Executive arising from this study is clear: PrEP promises to be one of the most important innovations in the global response to HIV, and Ireland’s escalating epidemic suggests that we cannot afford to be left behind! Sustained increases in sexually acquired HIV are a cause for concern not only in Ireland but across Europe and North America. It is evident from this Irish-centred study that a range of health care providers identify a need for Ireland to join the increasing number of countries making PrEP available to people at risk of HIV as part of a comprehensive package of prevention measures.”

Speaking at the launch, Dr. Patrick Mallon, (Consultant in Infectious Diseases Mater Misericordiae University Hospital) confirmed that ‘As part of HIV prevention, safety and efficacy of currently approved PrEP medication is well established, and the high level of support for PrEP implementation among key stakeholders and potential end-users who participated in this study points to the need for immediate steps to be taken to make PrEP available to key populations at risk of HIV in Ireland’.

The official launch of Dr. Nolan’s paper will take place in HIV Ireland, 70 Eccles Street, Dublin, at 10.00am on Thursday 15th June 2017.

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

End

HIV Ireland launches National HIV Stigma Survey: Survey to Explore HIV Stigma & Discrimination

HIV Ireland launches National HIV Stigma Survey
Survey to Explore HIV Stigma & Discrimination

Press Release Wednesday 1st March, 2017

HIV Ireland is marking its 30th anniversary by undertaking a National Survey on Stigma and HIV in partnership with the Mater Hospital/UCD. The survey will explore how living with HIV impacts on people’s day to day lives, especially within the context of stigma and discrimination.

Coinciding with UNAIDS Zero Discrimination Day, the survey for people living with HIV goes live on Wednesday 1st March. HIV Ireland is asking for people living with HIV to visit its website (www.hivireland.ie/survey) and complete the short survey.

With new HIV diagnoses in Ireland increasing to their highest level on record in 2016, Niall Mulligan, Executive Director of HIV Ireland said: ‘‘It is crucial for us to understand all the reasons behind the continued increase of new HIV diagnoses in Ireland. We have seen an increase of 35% since 2011, with a total of 513 people diagnosed as living with HIV in 2016, compared to 485 in 2015 [www.hpsc.ie – provisional data]. Ireland now has an average of 10 people per week being diagnosed with HIV. Understanding more about people’s personal experiences of living with HIV will help in the response to this very real public health challenge in Ireland today’.

On the launch of Zero Discrimination Day, Michel Sidibé, UNAIDS Executive Director stated that ‘the right to health belongs to all. On this #ZeroDiscrimination Day let us commit to ensuring everyone, everywhere can access health care safely, and live life fully with dignity’.

The National HIV Stigma Survey will remain live for 6 weeks. Interim results are expected to be available for Irish AIDS Day on Thursday 15th June, with the full report being launched in the latter half of 2017, providing a real insight into the reality of living with HIV in Ireland in 2017.

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

14.02.17: Expert groups ‘deeply disappointed’ with new laws affecting human rights of sex workers

Amnesty International Ireland | HIV Ireland | Migrant Rights Centre Ireland (MRCI) | Transgender Equality Network Ireland (TENI)

Four human rights organisations working with vulnerable groups in Ireland have expressed grave concerns with Part IV of the Criminal Law (Sexual Offences) Bill 2015, which was passed in the Seanad this evening (Tuesday 14.02.17). Part IV criminalises the purchase of sexual services and increases penalties for aspects of the work.

Niall Mulligan, Executive Director of HIV Ireland: “We advised strongly against this course of action, which goes against the expert opinion of the World Health Organisation and UNAIDS. Criminalisation of the purchase of sex drives sex work further underground, forcing workers to take more risks and work less safely. This in turn risks increasing the rate of HIV transmission. With new HIV diagnoses averaging almost 10 per week, this law will compound what is already a growing HIV crisis in Ireland.”

Edel McGinley, Director of MRCI: “We came out against this law after long consideration, and it is deeply disappointing that it passed today. It will not protect the most vulnerable – migrants, asylum seekers, refugees doing survival sex work. Furthermore, it promotes harmful stigmatisation and obstructs access to justice. We know from our decade of work on human trafficking and forced labour that this approach will not help victims of trafficking.”

Broden Giambrone, Chief Executive of TENI: “Trans people enter the sex industry for a variety of reasons, most commonly because they live in a transphobic society and their economic opportunities are limited due to structural barriers. Criminalising the purchase of sex will not make these barriers go away; it will only further limit the options of a vulnerable population.”

Colm O’Gorman, Executive Director of Amnesty International Ireland: “After two years of research and investigation, Amnesty International adopted a global position in favour of the decriminalisation of sex work and against the Nordic model. Our research highlighted the dangers of criminalising any aspect of consensual sex work, as evidenced from Argentina, Hong Kong, Norway, and Papua New Guinea. The Norway evidence shows that criminalising the purchase of sex does not fulfil its intended purpose of reducing prostitution and, more importantly, is not an effective way to protect sex workers.”

The groups welcomed the last-minute inclusion of a three-year review and limited decriminalisation of street sex workers, following extensive lobbying by the Sex Workers Alliance Ireland (SWAI) and others.

ENDS

CONTACT

Aoife Murphy, Migrant Rights Centre Ireland (MRCI): communications@mrci.ie

World AIDS Day 2016 campaign supported by Lord Mayor of Dublin

Press Release

World AIDS Day 2016 campaign supported by Lord Mayor of Dublin

The Lord Mayor of Dublin, Mr. Brendan Carr, has given his full support to this year’s World AIDS Day campaign, Hands Up for #HIVprevention (http://www.hivireland.ie/what-we-do/campaigns/hands-up-for-hivprevention/). World AIDS Day takes place annually on the 1st of December. Breda Gahan of the Dochas HIV and AIDS Working Group points out ‘that HIV and AIDS remains a serious health issue across the globe, with over 5,700 people newly infected with HIV every day in 2015. Currently 36.7 million people globally are living with HIV. As more women are infected globally, it is important to realise that HIV is the leading cause of death among women of reproductive age (UNAIDS 2016)’.

 

Here in Ireland, there is a growing concern regarding the rising numbers of newly diagnosed cases of HIV. A total of 485 people were newly diagnosed as living with HIV in 2015, compared with 372 in 2014 [www.hpsc.ie]. Heterosexual transmission accounted for 27% of HIV diagnoses in Ireland in 2015, with 79 diagnoses among females, and 51 among males. The largest group of people contracting HIV in Ireland continues to be men who have sex with men (MSM). And to date in 2016, there have been 453 provisional new HIV diagnoses, 36 more than at the same time in 2015.

At the launch of WAD 2016, the Lord Mayor of Dublin Brendan Carr said “With a growing rise in numbers of those newly diagnosed in Ireland with HIV, it is clear that more needs to be done in the areas of HIV prevention education.  HIV is both a health issue and a social inclusion issue given the key population groups it consistently impacts upon locally and globally.  We need to focus on people who face an increased risk of contracting HIV due to their circumstances including those living in extreme poverty, homeless, addicted to drugs, working within the sex industry, in prison or suffering from poor mental health.  Dublin City Council is proud to support the Hands Up for #HIVprevention campaign.”

In support of the campaign, Niall Mulligan, Executive Director of HIV Ireland ‘encouraged everyone to get behind the Hands Up for #HIVprevention campaign. Preventing the further transmission of HIV is crucial if we are to halt the rising HIV figures in Ireland and throughout the world’.

Lysander Preston, Chairperson of Positive Now, the all-Ireland network of people living with HIV welcomed this new campaign. “Positive Now stands in solidarity with those living with HIV and AIDS around the world. We work with many groups and people to help combat HIV related stigma and discrimination which greatly impacts on individuals living with this illness. Removing HIV related stigma and discrimination from Irish society and globally will greatly enhance HIV prevention work across the country and worldwide’.

Since the early 1990’s, treatment for HIV has made an extraordinary impact on the pandemic as people living with HIV increasingly are living long and healthy lives. Globally, AIDS-related deaths have dropped 45% since their peak in 2005. However, World AIDS Day remains an occasion when many Dubliners remember their friends and family who, locally or globally, are among the tens of millions who have died. Richard Carson of ACET Ireland reminds us that “this time of year people across the city are gathering in community centres and faith communities to remember those they have lost while courageously renewing themselves to combat HIV-related stigma and discrimination.” 

The Lord Mayor will officially launch Dublin’s support for World AIDS Day 2016 at 10.30am on Thursday 1st December outside the Mansion House.

 

 

For further information, please contact:

Breda Gahan, Global Health & HIV/AIDS Programme Adviser, Concern Worldwide – 086 2336377. www.concern.net

Niall Mulligan, Executive Director, HIV Ireland – 085 7457951. www.hivireland.ie

Lysander Preston, Chairperson, Positive Now – 01-8733799.    www.positivenow.ie

Richard Carson, CEO, ACET Ireland – 086 0482094. www.acet.ie

 

 

        

Press Release Irish AIDS Day 2016

Charities mark Irish AIDS Day with harm reduction campaign for people who inject Snow blow.

On Irish AIDS Day, 15th June 2016, the Lord Mayor of Dublin, Críona Ní Dhálaigh, launched a campaign highlighting the increased risk of HIV infection amongst people who inject drugs, particularly Snow blow.

 

The Ana Liffey Drug Project and HIV Ireland are taking action to address increasing HIV diagnoses amongst people who use Snow blow by providing harm reduction and HIV prevention information for people who inject drugs.  Resources created include an information leaflet, posters and a factsheet, which will be distributed widely as well as promoted on social media and via the drugs.ie website.

 

Speaking at today’s launch in the Mansion House, The Lord Mayor of Dublin, Críona Ní Dhálaigh, highlighted Ireland’s upward trend in HIV diagnoses:

 

“New HIV diagnoses in Ireland have increased to their highest level on record in 2015.  Provisional data published by the HSE Health Protection Surveillance Centre shows that a total of 491 people were newly diagnosed with HIV in 2015 – a 30% increase over 2014 figures.  Data also shows a significant increase in HIV diagnoses amongst people who inject drugs with a 67% increase in 2015[1], many of whom are people who are homeless in Dublin[2]”.

 

The Lord Mayor praised the efforts of both partner organisations to address the specific needs of at risk groups:

 

“I want to commend the Ana Liffey Drug Project and HIV Ireland for working together, sharing their expertise, and providing much needed harm reduction information to people who are more vulnerable to HIV.  This targeted initiative is very much in line with Ireland’s Healthy Ireland framework for improved health and well-being to address the specific needs of at-risk groups to reduce health inequalities.”

 

Niall Mulligan, Executive Director of the national charity HIV Ireland said:

 

 “We are working in partnership with the Ana Liffey Drug Project to play our part in addressing the increasing HIV diagnoses amongst people who inject drugs; we must reverse this trend in new HIV diagnoses.  The Government needs to invest in the prevention of HIV – including more access to free testing in a variety of settings and a sustained national HIV prevention and awareness campaign – and  HIV prevention should be included as a priority action in the next National Drugs Strategy.”

 

Tony Duffin, Director of the Ana Liffey Drug Project said:

 

 “Depending on a person’s drug habit, a person who injects heroin may inject about four times a day; however, people who inject Snow blow may inject every two hours.  More injecting means more blood exposure and this means more risk.  This makes someone more vulnerable to HIV; Hep C; death by overdose, abscesses, etc.”

 

 Duffin continued:

 

 “This increase in HIV in Dublin amongst people who inject drugs and who have multiple and complex needs, further highlights the need for Supervised Injecting Facilities.  It is essential that the draft legislation in relation to Supervised Injecting Facilities is debated, finalised and enacted as a matter of urgency – if we are to save lives and taxpayers money.”

 

The upward trend in HIV diagnoses has continued in 2016 with provisional data showing 231 new HIV diagnoses up to week 22 of 2016, compared to 167 during the same period last year – a 38% increase.[3]  Ireland now has an average of 10 people per week being diagnosed with HIV.  Official figures are likely to understate the scale of the crisis as the European Centre for Disease Prevention Control (ECDC)/WHO Regional Office for Europe estimate that 30% of people living with HIV are undiagnosed[4]. It is therefore likely the number of people living with HIV in Ireland is considerably higher than the number of diagnosed cases.

 

To download the campaign leaflet, posters and factsheet visit drugs.ie/snowblowhiv.

 

For information about HIV, testing, safer sex and support visit hivireland.ie.

 

Ends

 

 For further information, please contact:

 

Niall Mulligan, Executive Director

HIV Ireland

70 Eccles Street, Dublin 7

 

Mobile:  085 7457951

Office Tel: 01 873 3799

Email: niall.mulligan@hivireland.ie

 

 

Information for Editors:

Ana Liffey Drug Project:  Ana Liffey Drug Project is a national addiction service working to reduce the harm caused by drug use in Ireland. Ana Liffey provided direct services to over 2,914 clients in 2014, many of whom are among the most marginalised from mainstream service provision. To find out more about the Ana Liffey’s services visit www.aldp.ie.

Drugs.ie is an independent website funded by the HSE and managed by the Ana Liffey Drug Project. The drugs.ie site has in excess of 150,000 unique Irish visitors each year and over 750,000 international visitors annually.

HIV Ireland: HIV Ireland is a registered charity operating at local, national and European level.  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.  We consistently engage in lobbying and campaigning in the promotion of human rights and our approach broadly reflects a harm minimisation model which emphasises practical rather than idealised goals.  Service provision includes support for people living with HIV, free HIV and STI community-based testing, free condoms service, education and training programmes, free resources service, and a range of HIV and sexual health related campaigns and projects.  Visit www.hivireland.ie for more information.

HIV data in Ireland: HIV surveillance reports are available from the HSE Health Protection Surveillance Centre website www.hpsc.ie.

HSE Report 2015: Injection of new psychoactive substance snow blow associated with recently acquired HIV infections among homeless people who inject drugs in Dublin, Ireland, 2015http://www.lenus.ie/hse/handle/10147/583464.

[1] HIV in Ireland 2015 Provisional Data, HSE Health Protection Surveillance Centre, 31st May 2016.

[2] Injection of new psychoactive substance snow blow associated with recently acquired HIV infections among homeless people who inject drugs in Dublin, Ireland, 2015

[3] Statutory Notifications of HIV and STIs reported in Ireland via the Computerised Infectious Disease Reporting (CIDR) system for Week 22, 2016 (Provisional data), HSE Health Protection Surveillance Centre, 8th June 2016.

[4] HIV/AIDS surveillance in Europe 2009. Stockholm: European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control; 2010.

HSE and the Gay Health Network publish the largest ever MISI Survey

Joint Gay Health Network and HSE Press Release, 10th June 2016.

The HSE and the Gay Health Network launched the Men who have Sex with Men Internet Survey Ireland (MISI 2015) today, 10th June 2016 at the 14th Annual Gay Health Forum (GHF14) Dublin Castle.

The MISI 2015 report includes a range of findings on sexual health knowledge, attitudes, needs and behaviour among MSM. It focuses on sexual identity, relationships, HIV status and perception, and HIV and sexually transmitted infection (STI) testing. It also reports on sexual behaviours, substance use, access to and use of HIV prevention interventions as well as awareness and impact of health promotion materials designed for MSM. This internet survey, which was live from March 1st to May 31st 2015, is the largest ever national MSM survey of its kind in Ireland, with 3,090 men included in the analysis.  The full report is available here.

Men of all ages responded to the survey; 31% were less than 25 years of age, and 28% were over 40. Sexual identity and attraction varied among respondents: 75% were attracted only to men, and 25% to both men and women. The majority of men (79%) described themselves as gay, 13% as bisexual, 2% as straight or heterosexual and 5% as other. Two thirds were out to all or more than half of the people who knew them while 25% were out to less than half or few people and a further 9% were out to no one. Overall, 53% of MSM were single, 39% were in a steady relationship with a man and 8% were in a steady relationship with a woman.

90% of men had sex with another man in the previous year and 14% had sex with a woman.  Of men who had sex in the last 12 months, 31% reported that they had sex with one partner. Overall, 61% had sex with one or more non-steady partner in the last year, and 40% of these had unprotected (without a condom) anal intercourse.

Almost two thirds of men who had sex in the last 12 months met their most recent male partner via a smartphone app or website. Almost four in 10 men had never tested for HIV or STIs. Those least likely to have ever had a HIV test were young, living outside Dublin, did not identify as gay, were out to few or no one or had low levels of education. Of those who tested for STIs in the last 12 months, 21% had been newly diagnosed with an STI. Of those who had ever tested for HIV, 8% reported that they were HIV positive.

Encouragingly, for the 40% of men who had seen the “Get Tested” campaign for HIV, one third said that the campaign encouraged them to test for HIV. For the “It’s hard, it’s easy” condom campaign, 39% of men who had seen it said that the campaign had encouraged them to access free condoms, and 48% said that it encouraged them to get and carry condoms.  Both campaigns were run in partnerships between the Gay Health Network (GHN)  and the HSE as part of the man2man.ie initiative.

Mick Quinlan representing the GHN said:  “It is very valuable to have this information, to help the HSE and GHN to continue to plan activities and campaigns for MSM in Ireland. This large study shows that  the “Get Tested” Campaign and the “It’s Hard, It’s Easy” campaign  have been really successful in reaching our population and encouraging men, particularly young men, to get tested for HIV, to talk to their sexual partners and friends about HIV and to carry and use condoms.”  For more information visit www.man2man.ie

Ends.

Press Release – 29th April 2016 – National charity calls for urgent Government action on spiralling HIV figures

National charity calls for urgent Government action on spiralling HIV figures

Press Release – Friday 29th April 2016

-Ten new people are diagnosed with HIV every week in Ireland-

The incoming Government must take urgent action to address the spiralling HIV crisis. That’s according to HIV Ireland, the national charity for HIV advocacy, support and prevention.

With new HIV diagnoses in Ireland increasing to their highest level on record in 2015, Niall Mulligan, Executive Director of HIV Ireland said: ‘‘One of the first actions of the new Government must be to address the HIV crisis in Ireland. HIV Ireland has been working in the areas of prevention, testing, outreach and support for almost 30 years and we are alarmed at the relentless upward trend in HIV diagnoses.”

New HIV diagnoses nationally have increased by 35% since 2011. A total of 498 people were diagnosed as living with HIV in 2015, compared with 372 in 2014 [www.hpsc.ie – provisional data]. This worrying trend has continued in 2016, with 175 new provisional diagnoses to date (compared to 106 this time last year – a 40% increase). Ireland now has an average of 10 people per week being diagnosed with HIV.

HIV affects a range of at-risk groups including men who have sex with men (MSM), intravenous drug users and migrants. Over one-third of new HIV transmissions in Ireland were through heterosexual sexual contact in 2014. HIV also affects both younger and older people, with 44 young people aged between 14 and 24, and 32 people aged over 50 years, diagnosed with HIV in 2014.

Official figures are likely to understate the scale of the crisis. According to the World Health Organisation, 30% of people living with HIV are undiagnosed. It is therefore likely the number of people living with HIV in Ireland is considerably higher than the number of diagnosed cases.

HIV Ireland has been providing community testing in Dublin since 2013 and is currently developing a similar testing project in the North East. This innovative, lifesaving service has a detection rate of 1 HIV positive person for every 80 people tested. People who don’t know their HIV status run the greatest risk of poorer health outcomes, and of transmitting HIV to others through unprotected sex or sharing of needles. HIV symptoms may not appear for years, so the only way someone will know they are living with HIV is by getting tested.

The good news is that regular HIV testing can mean earlier diagnosis and more effective treatment. With early treatment, a person’s long term health prospects may improve to the point where their life expectancy will be similar to that of someone who has not contracted HIV. HIV Ireland wants everyone living with HIV to have the prospect of a long and fulfilling life.

Mulligan said, ‘HIV Ireland believes we can begin to reverse the trend in new diagnoses with a national HIV prevention and awareness campaign. The Government needs to invest in public awareness about how HIV is transmitted and how this can be prevented. We need to provide and promote free condom use across the country. Voluntary universal testing for HIV should be available nationally, especially within community and healthcare settings. We also need to focus on people who face a higher risk due to their circumstances – being homeless, being addicted to drugs, working within the sex industry, being in prison, suffering from poor mental health. Failure to do so runs the risk of creating a catastrophe out of a crisis’.

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

Mobile:  085 7457951

Tel: 01 8733799

Email: niall.mulligan@hivireland.ie

 

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