HIV Ireland commemorate Irish AIDS Day with first-of-its-kind service for trans people

The new service aims to remove barriers for trans and non-binary people in accessing sexual health services.

A hand touching and AIDS ribbon attached to a shirt

To commemorate Irish AIDS Day 2023, HIV Ireland has announced that they will start offering a new first-of-its-kind sexual health service called EqualCheckChat designed to benefit Ireland’s trans and non-binary individuals. The new service is a peer-led project developed in collaboration with the Department of Children, Equality, Disability, Integration and Youth’s (DCEDIY) LGBTI+ Community Services Fund.

The roll-out of the new service was announced on June 15, coinciding with Irish AIDS Day 2023, an annual event celebrating and supporting people living with HIV that aims to combat HIV-related stigma in Ireland.

Announcing the service, Executive Director of HIV Ireland, Stephen O’Hare, said: “Ireland continues to see a worrying upward trajectory in cases of HIV. Last year, the Health Protection Surveillance Centre (HPSC) recorded more than 850 newly notified cases in Ireland in its weekly published statistics, more than double the previous year.”

This drastic increase comes after two years of relatively low rates of newly diagnosed HIV cases, in 2020 and 2021, due to the restrictions imposed during the Covid-19 pandemic, which prevented access to sexual health services. The chart below shows HIV Ireland’s update on the epidemiology of HIV in Ireland at the end of 2022. 


Chart provided by HIV Ireland showing the cases of newly diagnosed cases of HIV in Ireland by year, spanning from 2012 to 2022.

According to O’Hare, “data for the first quarter of 2023 shows a continuing increase in newly notified cases with numbers for HIV and other STIs far exceeding the same period last year.” 

“In order to combat this rising trend, and to meet Ireland’s global commitment to end new HIV transmissions by 2030, we must ensure the wildest availability of barrier-free, accessible HIV and sexual health services, with a particular emphasis on communities facing obstacles to testing and related health care,” the Executive Director continued. 

The new service will provide free testing, including clinical oversight and onward referral services (when appropriate), as explained by HIV Ireland in a statement. The organization similarly shared that the new initiative was peer-developed with input from members of the trans and non-binary community, including coordinator and noted HIV and transgender activist Rebecca Tallon de Havilland. 

The activist joined Director O’Hare at the announcement of the new service, commenting: “Research tells us that, globally, transgender people are 13 times more likely to be HIV-positive than other adults, while access to HIV services is lower”. 


Speaking about her own experiences as a trans woman living with HIV, Tallon de Hallivand said: “Many trans and non-binary people find it difficult to access appropriate HIV and sexual health services due to experiences of stigma, violence, and legal barriers compounded by a lack of awareness among some health care professionals and gendered services provision that does not meet the needs of our community.” 

“The persistence of these barriers means that, globally speaking, transgender women are many times more likely to acquire HIV than other women,” continued Tallon de Havilland.

“In order to remove some of these barriers and improve overall accessibility, we need services that reflect the needs and expectations of the community. That is why we are developing a first-of-its-kind peer-led service by trans and non-binary people for trans and non-binary people,” she added.

To end the announcement of HIV Ireland’s latest initiative, Director O’Hare issued a special shout-out to Minister Roderic O’Gorman and the DCEDIY, thanking them for funding the project. 

“We are grateful to DCEDIY for generously supporting HIV Ireland to develop its work programme in a strategic and peer-led manner, in order to more effectively meet the sexual health needs of trans and non-binary people,” said Mr O’Hare. 

HIV Ireland has also issued a call for volunteers to work on the new service. All volunteers will receive training, supervision, and support from HIV Ireland. Find out more here.

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