The start of this month kicked off with Zero Discrimination Day, first established by the United Nations in 2004, to promote diversity and acknowledge the value of every life.
A study undertaken by Gay Community News on behalf of the PrEPLoveLife campaign[i] has discovered an aged related stigma, with those aged 41 and over (12 per cent) much less likely to talk about their HIV status than those aged 24-30 years old (39 per cent). Under half (42 per cent) of respondents claimed they would not tell a new partner about their HIV status before having sex with them.
Another recent study, conducted by HIV Ireland[ii], highlighted a number of misconceptions surrounding HIV, with one in five (20 per cent) 18–24 year olds believing that HIV can be passed from person to person through the sharing of a public toilet seat and a further 19 per cent of 18–24-year olds reporting that HIV can be passed between people through coughing or sneezing.
The aim of the PrepLoveLife campaign is to tackle the lack of discussion relating to HIV, as they believe that this silence contributes to the stigmatisation of the topic in Ireland.
They are promoting new medication (Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis) that has been made available in Irish pharmacies since last December and has apparently been shown to dramatically reduce the risk of contracting HIV by over 85 per cent and is recognised as a powerful HIV tool when combined with condoms and other methods.
Sandra Gannon, General Manager of Teva, commented: “PrEP has been shown to significantly reduce the risk of HIV infection in conjunction with safe sex practices, particularly for those deemed at high risk, such as gay and bisexual men, and transgender women, but also for heterosexual men and women.
“Word of mouth plays an important part in HIV awareness and prevention tools such as PrEP and its’ availability in Ireland. Knowing this, it’s important that the correct information is put out to those at risk of HIV and the general public”.