Galway nurse and HIV advocate Aoife Commins appeared on the Tommy Tiernan Show last Saturday, sharing her personal story and a powerful message to break down stigma. After the episode, viewers took to social media to praise the campaigner for her activism.
In an episode aired on February 10, Aoife Commins appeared on the popular show alongside Dermot Whelan and Róisín Murphy. Chatting to host Tommy Tiernan, Commins shared the story of how she found out she was living with HIV when she was in Sydney, Australia.
“When I got diagnosed, there’s a thing called a window period with HIV where it can take six to eight weeks to come up positive in the blood,” she shared. Speaking of her partner at the time, she said: “He had only been tested about two weeks before his last unprotected sex. So it was a false negative.”
Commins explained that she was taking the test to screen for STIs that could affect fertility and “was not in any way thinking HIV. That was not what I was worried about. But that is what I got.”
She recalled having been relieved when she got the diagnosis because doctors initially thought she might have cancer and that she would need chemotherapy and radiotherapy. “It was like, okay, I only take one tablet every day. That’s it. So I just take my tablets and I’ll go about my life and I have, that’s all I’ve done,” she said.
Tommy’s first guest tonight is Nurse and HIV+ Advocate Aoife Commins
— Tommy Tiernan (@Tommedian) February 10, 2024
The nurse then explained how she is now using her experience “to educate and to advocate for other women with HIV”, calling for better education on the subject, particularly in schools.
Aoife Commins came out as HIV positive in an interview with the Poz Vibe Podcast in 2023. On that occasion, she shared her story with hosts Veda and Robbie Lawlor, speaking about the complicated process of getting diagnosed and then having to have difficult chats with her parents.
Since that interview, Commins has been engaged in HIV activism, raising awareness in Ireland for women living with the virus. She even appeared alongside activist Rebecca Tallon de Havilland on last year’s Glow Red campaign, launched by HIV Ireland to commemorate World AIDS Day.
— HIV Ireland (@HIVIreland) February 10, 2024
Taking to X (formerly Twitter) to praise his fellow activist, Robbie Lawlor shared: “I couldn’t possibly adore Aoife Commins more! Representing women living with HIV in Ireland so brilliantly (and beautifully)! A living legend.”
Veda also commented on her appearance on the Tommy Tiernan Show, saying: “Congratulations Aoife Commins. Beautiful work.”
I couldn’t possibly adore @AoifeCommins more!
Representing women living with HIV in Ireland so brilliantly (and beautifully)!
A living legend 😍 https://t.co/4l1AKFbFDz
— Robbie Lawlor (@Robbie_Lawlor) February 10, 2024
Other viewers joined the two activists in commending Commins and the powerful messaging against HIV stigma she shared on the Tommy Tiernan Show.
“Such a powerful and articulate advocate Aoife Commins for those living with HIV ‘It could happen to anyone’ Also a brilliant educator along with Robbie Lawlor highlighting importance of educating young people – absolutely right it should start at secondary school !!” one person wrote.
“The wonderful and inspirational Aoife Commins was the star of the show tonight. What a wonderful woman,” another viewer shared.
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