HIV Ireland threw their Red Ball this weekend in Guinness Storehouse. Organised to raise awareness and essential funds to support people living with HIV and AIDS, the evening was a huge success. An Taoiseach, Leo Varadkar, delivered a speech thanking the organisation for the incredible work they’ve done over the years, and discussing the damage of stigma for those people affected by HIV and AIDS.
“How we used to treat people with HIV and AIDS was a nightmare which we are only now waking up from”, he stated, “in place of judgement we need understanding, in place of coldness we need compassion.”
An Taoiseach continued, “Unfortunately, even today, HIV remains one of the most stigmatised medical conditions, and that stigma of course is an additional burden, on top of the burden of the disease.” Describing how “this month, marks 25 years since the decriminalisation of homosexuality, and it’s just over 3 years since the marriage equality amendment”, he followed, “the stigma against gay people in our country is largely lifted, the same must happen as well for people who are HIV Positive.”
For the future, An Taoiseach said one of the government’s goals was to ensure that everyone in Ireland would receive comprehensive and age appropriate sexual health education and information.
“We are also developing HIV strategies, and of course we’re all aware of the recent availability of generic PrEP. This is a significant step towards making this prevention tool more readily available to those at risk from HIV in Ireland… The challenge of reducing the number of HIV diagnoses… is a major public health issue.”
An Taoiseach finished by reiterating his thanks toHIV Ireland: “Your action tonight and throughout the year contributes greatly to the growing good of the world and I am delighted to be here and acknowledge that on behalf of the government and on behalf of the Irish people.”
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