“The Government took the finger off the pulse by managing treatment rather than risk”

The above is a quite from Dr Fiona Mulcahy, consultant at St James’s department of genito-urinary medicine and infectious diseases. It is her view on how the Government is tackling the HIV/AIDS issue in Ireland. This year will see Ireland’s rate of infection increase by 20%. This is all reported in the Irish Times.

Dublin’s St James’s Hospital has reported the highest number of new HIV cases in one year since records began, with a 20 per cent increase in positive diagnoses.

It projected 242 people would be diagnosed with HIV in the hospital by the end of the year, compared to 208 people in 2008.

The number of new cases of infections among men who have sex with men doubled over the year. Most of them were under the age of 30.

Most people don’t know they are infected, until they go for routine tests. Women mostly find out during antenatal screenings and men find out during tests for other STI’s.

At-risk groups are being ignored by the Government and they needed to be targeted in a “national sexual health strategy” as called for by the Gay and Lesbian Equity Network (GLEN).

I also agree with Fine Gael’s Dr James Reilly TD who called for a “national education campaign on HIV prevention”.

These two ideas would work hand and hand and need to be implemented if we are to make a difference here.

Of course the Government is not alone on this. A lot of current HIV/AIDS campaigns are focused now on living with disease rather then prevention. While this is needed, the old adage, “Prevention is Better then Cure” is hugely important when it comes to HIV/AIDS. As the Irish Times article highlights, “the majority of new patients did not have health insurance due to their age and antiretroviral treatments cost up to €2,000 per person per year.”

Its time we took stock. Its time we woke up. Its time we educated ourselves and others.

So look at Spunout.ie’s pages on STI’s, know how to use a Condom. Be aware.

So Protect yourself. Protect others. Wear a Condom.

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UN Sec Gen, Ban Ki-Moon’s Message on World AIDS Day

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The world is seeing signs of progress in reversing the AIDS epidemic in some countries. Investments in the AIDS response are producing results and saving lives.

At the same time, in global terms new infections are outpacing the gains achieved in putting people on treatment, and AIDS remains one of the leading causes of premature death globally.

On World AIDS Day this year, our challenge is clear: we must continue doing what works, but we must also do more, on an urgent basis, to uphold our commitment to reach universal access to HIV prevention, treatment, care and support by 2010.

This goal can be achieved only if we shine the full light of human rights on HIV. That means countering any form of HIV-related stigma and discrimination. It means eliminating violence against women and girls. It means ensuring access to HIV information and services.

I urge all countries to remove punitive laws, policies and practices that hamper the AIDS response, including travel restrictions against people living with HIV.

Successful AIDS responses do not punish people; they protect them.
In many countries, legal frameworks institutionalize discrimination against groups most at risk. Yet discrimination against sex workers, drug users and men who have sex with men only fuels the epidemic and prevents cost-effective interventions.

We must ensure that AIDS responses are based on evidence, not ideology, and reach those most in need and most affected.
People living with HIV can be powerful role models in guiding us to better approaches to prevention, health and human dignity. We must recognize their contributions and promote their active participation in all aspects of the AIDS response.

On this World AIDS Day, let us uphold the human rights of all people living with HIV, people at risk of infection, and children and families affected by the epidemic. Let us, especially at this time of economic crisis, use the AIDS response to generate progress towards the Millennium Development Goals. Most of all, let us act now.

Are you wearing your ribbon?
Wear your ribbon on twitter also!

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