Irish government announce massive €450k boost to HIV prevention strategies with Fast-Track Cities

Cork, Dublin, Limerick and Galway are the latest cities to join the global Fast-Track Cities initiative to boost HIV prevention and treatment and to reduce stigma.

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Cork, Dublin, Limerick and Galway are the latest cities to be added to the global HIV Fast-Track Cities initiative – a global partnership of cities and municipalities with four core partners: IAPAC, UNAIDS, UN-Habitat, and the City of Paris. Over 300 cities are part of the initiative, including London, Paris, New York and São Paulo.

Minister for Health Simon Harris, Taoiseach Leo Varadkar, and Minister of State for Health Promotion Catherine Byrne have today signed up to the global initiative aimed at boosting HIV prevention and treatment and reducing stigma.

Funding of €450K to kick-start the initiative in Ireland was also announced. This funding will support community HIV awareness and testing in Dublin, Cork, Limerick and Galway, as well as a national stigma reduction campaign, to be delivered by the HSE Sexual Health and Crisis Pregnancy Programme with HIV organisation partners in each city.

Minister for Health Simon Harris announced that the money would also support the promotion of the new PrEP programme later this year.

“Sexual health is one of our key priorities under Healthy Ireland and reducing the number of new HIV diagnoses in Ireland is a priority focus for me as Minister for Health. I also want to pay tribute to the ongoing work of Minister Byrne in this regard.

“The aim of the Fast Track Cities initiative is to boost current HIV prevention and intervention work.

“In this regard, I was very pleased to be able to allocate additional funding of €450,000 to the HSE specifically for developments such as community-based HIV testing and outreach services, as well as public campaigns on stigma reduction and promotion of the new PrEP programme later this year.”

An Taoiseach Leo Varadkar said “The Government wants to reduce the number of people who contract HIV. So, we want to make it easier for people to get tested and know their status, as people who know their status get treated and are far less likely to pass it on.  I am really pleased that Ireland is joining forces with other cities and partners around the world in this global initiative to fight HIV. Collaborating in this way will help us to identify and share best practice.

“Under the HIV Fast Track Cities initiative, we will further expand community HIV testing and raise awareness about the benefits of treatment. We’re backing this up with real money; €450,000 for testing in Galway, Cork, Limerick and Dublin and a national awareness programme. By working at a local level we can get to the people we need to reach and bring down HIV rates across Ireland.”

The Fast-Track Cities initiative states their goal as “ending the AIDS epidemic in cities by 2030.” In their 2014 Paris Declaration,  the organisation set out their goals to achieve ‘90-90-90’ – 90% of people living with HIV knowing their HIV status, 90% of people who know they’re HIV Positive on treatment and 90% of people on treatment with suppressed viral loads.

In addition to the 90-90-90 goals, the initiative aims to increase the use of combination HIV services, to reduce the negative impact of stigma and discrimination to zero and to establish a web-based platform to allow real-time monitoring of progress. Fast-trackcities.org features an interactive global map which shows HIV prevalence, new HIV infections, people living with HIV on ART and AIDS-related deaths.

Bernard Condon, Chairperson of HIV Ireland welcomed the announcement: “We warmly welcome the Government’s commitment to Fast Track Cities, and acknowledge the Taoiseach and Minister for Health’s role in bringing us to this important point. This step has the capacity to make a real and significant impact in people’s lives. HIV Ireland and our colleagues across the country will play our role in helping Ireland meet its commitments to reduce new HIV infections, increase testing and tackle stigma for people living with HIV. We are proud that our country is committing to these goals.”

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