HIV Ireland Policy Work

HIV Ireland is currently one of just a few organisations raising awareness about HIV in Ireland, and as such is in a key position to influence Government policy in the area of HIV and sexual health.  HIV Ireland has a long history of campaigning for the rights of people living with HIV, and has consistently engaged in policy development while lobbying and campaigning in the promotion of human rights.  While the growing emergence of partnership models has provided a platform for greater dialogue between statutory and voluntary agencies, the need for active lobbying remains crucial.

A key objective in our Strategic Plan 2014-2017 is “To inform and influence policy around issues concerning HIV prevention and sexual health and around the lives of people living with HIV.”

HIV Ireland places a strong emphasis on research and an evidence-informed approach (both national and international) when presenting key policy issues and positions.  We operate under an ethos of equality and are committed to making a positive contribution towards a humane and just society.  HIV Ireland strives to ensure an environment that promotes equal opportunity and prohibits discrimination while further enabling people living with HIV to experience dignity and respect at all times.  It is our policy to ensure the inclusiveness of the voices and experiences of people living with HIV when working on any policy issues that affect HIV-positive people.

Most recent Policy Work:

Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis (PrEP) 

In response to the ongoing HIV crisis in Ireland, HIV Ireland and the Gay Health Network commissioned a policy options review and evidence-scoping of PrEP for HIV prevention in Ireland.

On Irish AIDS Day 2017 (15th June), the Scoping and Policy Options Review Paper, conducted by Dr. Ann Nolan (International Development Specialist), was launched, and included a call to for PrEP to made available in Ireland through the Health Service Executive’s general medical scheme (GMS).

Download the full report: Pre-exposure Prophylaxis (PrEP) Scoping and Policy Options Review

Download the Executive Summary Report.

View the Press Release.

The PrEP report was presented as a Poster at the 2017 BASHH SSSTDI conference in Belfast.  View/download the Poster Presentation.

The PrEP report was presented at the 15th Annual Gay Health Forum in Dublin Castle on 30th June 2017.  View/download the Presentation.

Media Reporting:

Call for HSE to provide HIV prevention medication. RTE.ie, 15th June 2017.

Calls for prevention medication to be made available following over 500 HIV diagnoses in 2016. thejournal.ie, 15th June 2017.

Explainer: What’s being done to bring anti-HIV medication into Ireland? thejournal.ie, 17th June 2017.

Call for HIV drug to be made available to stem epidemic. Irish Times, 23rd June 2017.

Getting PrEP-ed for HIV Education. The Medical Independent, 20th July 2017.

Anti-HIV drug may not come under HSE scheme until 2019. Irish Times, 4th August 2017.

PrEP-ing for HIV Prevention in Ireland. The Medical Independent, 14th September 2017.

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National Drugs Strategy ‘Reducing Harm, Supporting Recovery’ 2017 to 2025

HIV Ireland works closely with the North Inner City Drugs Task Force (NICDATF) to ensure that HIV prevention and education remains on the agenda when working with drug users and when developing policy frameworks.  HIV Ireland is a member of the NICDATF sub-committees on Prevention and Education, and Treatment and Rehab.

The new National Drugs Strategy – Reducing Harm, Supporting Recovery – A health-led response to drug and alcohol use in Ireland 2017 to 2025 – was published on 17th July 2017 and launched by An Taoiseach Leo Varadkar TD, Minister for Health Simon Harris TD, and Catherine Byrne TD, Minister of State at the Department of Health with responsibility for Health Promotion and the National Drugs Strategy.

The strategy specifically states that harm-reduction advice promoting sexual health and screening programmes will continue to play an important role in reducing the risks of contracting blood-borne viruses such as HIV and Hepatitis C.

Read/download the full strategy here.

Read our written submission with recommendations for inclusion in the new National Drugs Strategy: HIV Ireland Submission to National Drugs Strategy – October 2016

Previous Strategies: National Drugs Strategy (interim) 2009 – 2016.

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Presentation by Niall Mulligan, Director of HIV Ireland to AIDS Action Europe on Civil Society, Advocacy, Human Rights and HIV in Berlin November 2016

Click here to download HIV Ireland Presentation for Berlin Meeting 5th November 2016

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HIV Ireland Report: Potential Impact of the Swedish Model on Rates of HIV/AIDS Among Sex Workers and Their Access to Healthcare

Click here to view or download  HIV Ireland Report into Swedish Model

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Tattooing and Body Piercing Infection Control Guidance

The Department of Health, in conjunction with the Health Service Executive, is currently developing guidance on infection control for the tattooing and body piercing industry.  The purpose of the document is to provide guidance to the industry in the absence of sector specific regulation. It is intended to publish the guidance early in 2016.  In December 2015, the Department of Health issued the Draft Guidance Document and called for submissions from the public and the industry.

The Draft Guidance issued by the Department of Health included a recommendation that if a person discloses an HIV positive status then tattooing or body piercing is not recommended.  See PART A, SECTION 3. P.24 which reads: “Check with the client if they have Haemophilia or a blood borne infection such as HIV, Hepatitis B or Hepatitis C. If client discloses that they do, tattooing or body piercing is not recommended.”

In January 2016. in light of this particular recommendation, HIV Ireland sent a written submission to the Department of Health calling for a removal of this recommendation from the Guidance.

Read the HIV Ireland written submission to the Department of Health here.

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HSE National Service Plan 2016

The HSE National Service Plan 2016 includes a commitment to “Enhance Community approaches to addressing HIV/AIDS” and to “collaborate with HIV Ireland and other stakeholders” in these approaches.

Additionally the plan includes actions to implement the recommendations of the National Sexual Health Strategy and the National Hepatitis C Strategy.

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HIV Ireland Report- Potential impact of the Swedish model on rates of HIV/AIDS among sex workers and their access to healthcare

HIV Ireland has been working directly with Sex Workers for a number of years and has been officially involved with the Sex Workers Alliance of Ireland since 2011. In 2015, HIV Ireland conducted research on the potential impact on sex workers of the state introducing the Nordic (Swedish) Model to Ireland (Roe & McGowan: 2015) The researchers found that the Swedish model is leading to a more adverse health environment for sex workers including decreased self-protection against the risk of exposure to HIV/AIDS, limits sex worker’s ability to access the health services they need and weakens access to outreach preventative health services. This is a key policy issue for HIV Ireland and one we will be prioritising over the coming years.

Click on the link below to download the report.

Potential impact of the Swedish model on rates of HIVAIDS among sex workers and their access to healthcare. HIV Ireland Report – September 2015

Review of Legislation on Prostitution

In 2012, HIV Ireland (then Dublin AIDS Alliance) sent a written submission to the Joint Oireachtas Committee on
Justice, Defence and Equality opposing further criminalisation of sex workers or their clients, recommending a human-rights approach in any review of legislation on sex work, advocating for the voices of sex workers in any public consultation, and recommending that the Government ensure that any reform in the law is in line with national policies and international best practice and guidelines.

Read the HIV Ireland written submission to the Oireachtas Committee here.

In 2015, HIV Ireland commissioned a report to establish the potential impact of the ‘Swedish model’ on rates of HIV among sex workers and their access to healthcare.  Read the report here.

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National Sexual Health Strategy 2015 – 2020

Ireland’s first National Sexual Health Strategy 2015 – 2020 was published in October 2015 by the Minister for Health, Leo Varadkar.  HIV Ireland participated in the development of the strategy from 2012 to 2014 and was part of the Education and Prevention Working Group.

HIV Ireland is the only voluntary sector representative on the HSE National Implementation Group of the National Sexual Health Strategy and also actively participates in, and supports, the HSE National Advisory Group and the HSE National Communications Working Group.

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National Hepatitis C Strategy 2011 – 2014

HIV Ireland participated in the development of the National Hepatitis C Strategy 2011 – 2014 and successfully lobbied the HSE to publish the strategy in September 2012.

HIV Ireland a member of the HSE Education, Prevention and Communication Working Group for the implementation of the strategy.

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LGV Outbreak Control Team – Department of Public Health, HSE East

HIV Ireland was invited to participate on this committee convened in October 2014 by the Department of Public Health, HSE East, due to increasing notifications of LGV infections among men who have sex with men, primarily in the HSE East area.  As part of our partnership work with the Gay Health Network, HIV Ireland also participated on an information sub-group convened from members of this team to prepare and disseminate information materials to men at risk of LGV infection.  A new information leaflet was developed for distribution and a new webpage created for online information (www.man2man.ie/lgv).

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Multi-disciplinary Gonorrhoea Control Group – Department of Public Health, HSE East

HIV Ireland was invited to participate on this multi-disciplinary group in 2013, convened by the Department of Public health, HSE East to investigate and control the increase in gonorrhoea notifications.  HIV Ireland was also a leading partner in the Expert Working Group established to develop and roll-out the Gonorrhoea Information Campaign which ran from December 2013 to mid-February 2014.  The work of the Multi-disciplinary Control Group was discontinued in June 2014 once the rise in gonorrhoea notifications was halted.

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