President of Ireland addresses World AIDS Day as Irish Names Quilt is unveiled

The Irish Names Quilt was unveiled by Lord Mayor Hazel Chu yesterday as a number of virtual events took place to mark World AIDS Day 2020.


Yesterday, December 1, Ireland commemorated World AIDS Day with lectures, the launch of the Irish Names Quilt exhibition and virtual events.

In a statement for World AIDS Day, President Michael D Higgins made parallels between the AIDS epidemic and the current COVID-19 pandemic saying “the lessons learned over the past decades, such as those the world learned in the struggle to combat the spread of HIV through a caring, informed and inclusive response, must serve to inform our response to the Covid-19 pandemic.

“We must not repeat those mistakes of the global response to HIV/AIDS that left millions of poor people without access to treatment and which took far too long to take existing vulnerabilities and discriminatory practices into account.

“Today, on World AIDS Day, let us commit to tackling the Covid-19 virus on the basis of the principles of solidarity, care, compassion and inclusion, that will ensure equity of access to health care solutions, and break down the social inequalities that put so many vulnerable people at risk.”

In Temple Bar, Dublin Lord Mayor Hazel Chu unveiled ‘The Quilt: Echoes & Memories’, an exhibition of the Irish Names Quilt by Queer Culture Ireland in collaboration with Dublin Pride.

The exhibition is dedicated to the project’s first Custodian, Mary Shannon.

Speaking at the unveiling, Lord Mayor Chu said:

“I think it’s particularly poignant this year especially in light of the pandemic while we have so many to remember around the world where we are tied and bond together by our grief but also to celebrate those who have passed which is really important with this piece of work.

‘The Quilt: Echoes & Memories’ runs until December 31 at Filmbase as part of Winter Pride 2020.

The annual Father Michael Kelly Lecture also marked World AIDS Day with a host of speakers including Professor Father Michael Kelly, Zambia; Dr Lia Tadesse Gebremedhin, Minister of Health – Ethiopia; Saidy Brown, HIVictor – South Africa; Marijke Wijnroks, Chief of Staff, Office of the Executive Director, The Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria – Switzerland.

Panti hosted GCN and HIV Ireland’s annual World AIDS Day conversation again this year which was held virtually.

Panti spoke to a number of prominent HIV activists in the Irish community. Judith Finlay, one of the founders of Queer Culture Ireland spoke about the new exhibition.

Panti was joined by Drag sensation VEDA who shared her experience coming out as HIV Positive last year.

Adam Shanley from the MPOWER Programme spoke about the challenges facing Ireland’s LGBTQ+ community from a sexual health perspective during the COVID-19 pandemic highlighting the ongoing closure of the GMHS.

Andrew Leavitt was the final guest of the evening and shared the U=U message that effective HIV treatment (or medication), and an undetectable viral load, means that the risk of HIV being passed on through sex is zero.

You can watch the virtual event here:

The event was held as a joint fundraiser for GCN and HIV Ireland. If you would like to donate, text “GCN” to 50300 to donate €4*

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