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Ministers for Health mark World Aids Day 2019

Minister for Health Simon Harris and Minister for Health Promotion Catherine Byrne today (Sunday 1st December) marked World AIDS Day 2019 and recognised the significant progress made in addressing HIV this year in Ireland.

The theme of this year’s global event is recognition of the important role that communities play in responding to the HIV challenge. The Ministers paid tribute to the partnership work between health services and community groups which resulted in the introduction of a HIV PrEP programme last month, as well as Ireland signing up to a global HIV Fast Track Cities initiative earlier in the year.

Minister for Health Simon Harris said:

World Aids Day is a day when we take stock of where we are in the fight against HIV. This year we were pleased to launch two major initiatives to intensify our response to HIV in Ireland. The first of these saw Ireland joining the Fast Track Cities global initiative which is aimed at boosting HIV prevention and treatment, and reducing stigma. In keeping with the theme of this year’s World Aids Day, ‘Communities Make The Difference’, the funding provided for this will support community HIV awareness and testing in Dublin, Cork, Limerick and Galway, as well as a national stigma reduction campaign.

The most significant development in 2019 was of course the start of a HIV PrEP programme in the past few weeks, which will reduce the number of people who contract HIV in future. The programme is now up and running at a number of key sites and will expand further in 2020 following significant investment from Budget 2020. This is a landmark programme and a welcome addition to our efforts to combat HIV infection.

Of course, we must continue to do more. In 2020, we will review and renew our Sexual Health Strategy and we will outline our goals in this area.

Minister for Health Promotion Catherine Byrne said:

This day provides us with a welcome opportunity to remember those who have been lost to AIDS-related illnesses, and to remind ourselves of the need to keep focussing on what we can do to strengthen our efforts in the area of prevention and support for those living with HIV.

Good sexual health and well-being is important for our overall physical and mental health, and especially so in our young people. Reducing stigma and supporting education and sexual health promotion is vital to ensure everyone enjoys positive sexual health outcomes.

This year’s World Aids Day theme focuses on the role of the community and I want to take this opportunity to thank all of our partners such as the HSE, NGOs and local partners, advocacy and community groups who are working with us to improve sexual health and HIV prevention.