In recognition of World AIDS Day on December 1, over 60 landmark buildings and monuments across Ireland will be illuminated with a red glow to raise awareness about HIV and fight against HIV-related stigmas.
HIV Ireland’s annual campaign encourages organisations and members of the public to “Glow Red” to mark the occasion and share their photos online using the hashtag #GLOWRED4WAD.
This year, the campaign aims to raise particular awareness about women living with HIV because a recently published study from the Health Protection Surveillance Centre shows that HIV cases in women are up 25% since 2019. Furthermore, in Ireland in 2022, women represented 34% of newly notified cases and accounted for 21% of first-time diagnoses overall.
Executive Director of HIV Stephen O’Hare said, “This year, the global theme of World AIDS Day is ‘Let Communities Lead’. Yet one community that is often silenced in the discussion, both in relation to prevention and stigma, is women. Glow Red aims to change that.”
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Activist Rebecca Tallon de Havilland and Galway nurse Aoife Commins, who recently spoke about her HIV diagnosis, are at the forefront of the Glow Red campaign.
As a trans woman living with HIV since 1987, Rebecca said, “It is vital that women, particularly those at increased vulnerability to acquiring HIV in our communities, have access to suitable preventive and supportive options such as access to PrEP and PEP, testing and treatment, outreach, and psychological support.”
The Glow Red campaign ambassador added, “No woman, whether they are cis or trans, gay or straight, should have to live with, and be subjected to, stigma. We already know that if we don’t end the stigma attached to HIV, we won’t end HIV transmissions at all. Women belong in this conversation.”
While Ireland has made great strides in terms of HIV research and treatment in the past 40 years, many people still believe HIV is a dangerous diagnosis, and people living with HIV often face discrimination and exclusion rooted in the misconceptions about HIV and AIDS.
These stigmas create significant barriers to testing, treatment uptake, adherence to medication and seeking support, but the campaign hopes to spread the message that thanks to recent advances in medication, people living with HIV can live long and healthy lives.
The Glow Red campaign is supported by GSK-ViiV healthcare and aims to end HIV globally by 2030.
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