World AIDS Day 2010 – I Am Living My Rights

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It is that time of year again. That Day when the worlds focus is on HIV/AIDS. The Day where we hope that the following year will be different.

That maybe HIV infections will decrease.

That maybe HIV won’t be passed on from mother to child.

That maybe by listening people may change their habits and not be infected.

That maybe we will find a cure.

It is a day of hope.

It is a day for action.

It is a day for remembrance.

It has been this way since 1988 when the first World AIDS Day was marked.

Things are different not then in 1988. We understand the disease more, people are living longer with the disease.

But just because they are living longer, it is not an end to their struggle. In fact it has led to a whole new struggle.

People with HIV/AIDS are discriminated against. Its a known fact. And we all play a role in it.

There is in many countries, including Ireland, no legal protection for those who are discriminated against due to their HIV/AIDS status. We cover nine grounds in Ireland so why not add another? These are vulnerable members of our society. They need our support, our solidarity, and most of all to treat them as normal human beings.

That is why I wear the Red Ribbon. Let them live their rights.

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“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’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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