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, many of whom are people who are homeless in Dublin”.
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.”
“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. 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. 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.
For further information, please contact:
Niall Mulligan, Executive Director
70 Eccles Street, Dublin 7
Mobile: 085 7457951
Office Tel: 01 873 3799
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.
- HIV and STI Weekly Reports: http://www.hpsc.ie/A-Z/HIVSTIs/SexuallyTransmittedInfections/Publications/STIReports/STIWeeklyReports/.
- HIV in Irleand 2015 Provisional Data: http://www.hpsc.ie/A-Z/HIVSTIs/HIVandAIDS/SurveillanceReports/.
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, 2015 – http://www.lenus.ie/hse/handle/10147/583464.
 HIV in Ireland 2015 Provisional Data, HSE Health Protection Surveillance Centre, 31st May 2016.
 Injection of new psychoactive substance snow blow associated with recently acquired HIV infections among homeless people who inject drugs in Dublin, Ireland, 2015
 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.
 HIV/AIDS surveillance in Europe 2009. Stockholm: European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control; 2010.
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
Published Monday 30th May 2016.
Sir, – New research published by Amnesty International exposes the dangers in criminalising sex work, as evidenced from Argentina, Hong Kong, Norway, and Papua New Guinea.
It adds to a large body of independent evidence calling for a harm-reduction approach and the decriminalisation of sex work in order to protect the basic human rights of sex workers, such as the right to physical safety, bodily integrity and health. This critical evidence firmly exposes the Swedish model, which criminalises the purchasers of sexual services, as not fulfilling its intended purpose of reducing prostitution. All evidence shows that sex workers are far more vulnerable to abuse, violence and increased risk of HIV/Aids under the Swedish model.
The UNAIDS Advisory Group on HIV and Sex Work advises states to move away from criminalising sex work. The World Health Organisation, UN Special Rapporteur on the Right to Health,Human Rights Watch, the Global Alliance Against the Traffic of Women, Amnesty International and the Global Network of Sex Work Projects reiterate this call.
Failure to listen and consider this mounting independent evidence will undoubtedly put the human rights of sex workers in Ireland at risk. We urge the Government to ensure this expert evidence informs laws and policy on sex work in Ireland today. – Yours, etc,
KATE McGREW, Sex Workers Alliance Ireland;
BRODEN GIAMBRONE, Transgender Equality Network Ireland;
NIALL MULLIGAN, HIV Ireland;
ANNIE HOEY, Union Students of Ireland;
EDEL McGINLEY, Migrant Rights Centre Ireland;
DAWN RUSSELL, Ana Liffey Drugs Project;
PASSEROSE MANTOY-MEADE, Chrysalis Community Drugs Project;
ANN MASON, Goshh (Gender, Orientation, Sexual Health, HIV);
Dr GRAHAM ELLISON, Commercial Sex Research Network Ireland;
LINDA KAVANAGH, Abortion Rights Campaign;
DEARBHLA RYAN, Community and Campaign Worker.