“One in four people think HIV can be transmitted by kissing.”
Launched by HIV Ireland today at Dublin Castle at the organisation’s 30th Anniversary Conference on HIV and Stigma, the ‘HIV In Ireland, 2017’ survey of over a thousand people has disturbing findings. The survey 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.
Almost 20 percent of the people living with HIV (PLWH) felt suicidal in the past year, while a quarter are not comfortable with their own HIV positive status. More than a half of PLWH are single and a massive third of respondents experienced rejection in a relationship because of their HIV status.
People who responded to the general survey rather than the one specifically for PLWH, reported varying levels of understanding, ignorance and stigma around HIV. While younger people have less correct knowledge than older people, they are more likely to be welcoming of someone living with HIV.
One fifth of 18 to 24 year-olds incorrectly think HIV can be passed throught the sharing of a toilet seat (compared to 10 per cent of those over 24), while 24 per cent of people incorrectly believe that HIV can be transmitted by kissing.
HIV Ireland’s executive director, Niall Mulligan says the 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,” he added.
“The Government urgently needs to provide additional resources within the areas of HIV prevention, education, community testing, counselling, mediation and human rights advocacy.”
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