The HSE Sexual Health and Crisis Pregnancy Programme (SHCPP) has launched a new campaign to address HIV-related stigma.
HIV-related stigma can happen when misconceptions about HIV lead to negative attitudes towards people living with HIV or misunderstandings about what it means to receive a HIV diagnosis. HIV-related stigma can affect the mental wellbeing of people who are living with HIV. Fear of being discriminated against or judged negatively can prevent people living with HIV from disclosing their HIV status or accessing treatment. HIV-related stigma can also deter people who may have been exposed to HIV from testing because they fear getting a positive result.
HIV infection is manageable. Effective treatment allows people living with HIV to remain healthy and can restore health in those who have become unwell with HIV infection. Furthermore, effective HIV treatment also prevents HIV being passed on to others. It is very important that these messages are communicated widely to ensure that people living with HIV know that they can live long and healthy lives and do not have to worry about passing on HIV to others. It is also very important that the public are aware of the progress that has been made in HIV treatment in relation to preventing sexual transmission and to encourage people who may have been exposed to HIV not to be concerned about having a HIV test.
Campaign posters with the tagline: ‘Effective treatment means you can’t pass HIV onto partners’, will appear in public transport, social venues and college locations across the country, as well as on digital platforms. The campaign also references the global U=U campaign (undetectable equals untransmittable).
The campaign was developed by the HSE SHCPP in consultation with community groups and sexual health NGO organisations. Funding for the campaign was provided by the Department of Health as part of the HIV Fast Track Cities Initiative.
Dr Fiona Lyons, Consultant Physician at the GUIDE clinic, said: “It is important that people have access to early testing and treatment for HIV. Effective treatment prevent