The HPSC released its annual report on HIV in Ireland on Friday, and with recent data indicating that new diagnoses have reached historic highs, ACT UP Dublin have called for a series of measures in light of the HIV crisis.
The Dublin branch of the group highlighted a number of concerning findings in the HPSC’s report. In their statement ACT UP said:
“New HIV diagnoses remain at historic highs in Ireland and current strategies are not making progress against the epidemic. ACT UP Dublin calls for measures to increase HIV testing rates, for funding of effective supports for people living with HIV, and for implementation of a large-scale, accessible national PrEP programme.”
ACT UP highlighted how, at around 500 per year, HIV diagnoses in Ireland have remained “stubbornly high”, and at a rate that is “significantly higher than the EU average”.
— ACT UP Dublin (@ActUpDublin) November 25, 2018
In response, ACT UP called for increased testing to curb the late diagnosis of HIV in Ireland:
“Sexual health services remain woefully underfunded across the board. While it is important, as the report notes, to increase awareness about the benefits of HIV testing, that awareness must be accompanied by substantial improvements in the accessibility of testing and treatment for HIV and other STIs.”
ACT UP signalled the work done by KnowNow, a group who provide free, rapid HIV testing, and called for similar programmes to be developed to “reach other groups, including, especially migrants”.
In their statement, ACT UP called for better support and care for people living with HIV:
“We need better communication between clinics, and more effective measures to sustain care and engagement with services. Proper health services should be provided along with HIV care.
“Crucially, services and interventions that mitigate the harms of pervasive stigma, including high rates of depression and anxiety among people living with HIV, need to be designed and implemented.”
Additionally, the group addressed the Minister for Health’s promise to roll out a PrEP programme in 2019:
“Such a programme needs to be accessible at an appropriate scale – reaching thousands to have a real impact.”
Crucially, ACT UP called for a national campaign to educate the public about the realities of the HIV crisis:
“This campaign must speak to and include people living with HIV and not focus solely on prevention for HIV-negative people.”
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