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Wednesday June 15th is Irish AIDS Day

World Aids Day 2016

Wednesday June 15 is Irish AIDS Day and Gender Orientation Sexual Health HIV (GOSHH), based on Davis Street in Limerick City, will mark the day by providing free Rapid HIV Tests.

GOSHH, formally known as Red Ribbon Project, has been involved in HIV activismGOSHH since it was first set up in 1989 by a group of gay men in Limerick and is currently promoting community based rapid testing as part of the Know Now campaign. GOSHH have been providing Rapid HIV tests for the last four years and are part of the first scheme to take a national approach to Rapid HIV testing. By making the test free of charge it removes the barrier of cost which was sometimes a factor in people not testing for HIV.

KnowNow, is an exciting and innovative new approach to enabling more people to know their HIV status. If people have HIV then the earlier they become aware of their status the better it will be for their long term health outcomes. In addition, most HIV is transmitted by people who are unaware that they have HIV, so early diagnosis can further reduce onward transmission rates.  The test uses a pin prick of blood from your finger and the results are available within 60 seconds.

Ann Mason, GOSHH Manager stated how important it is for people to know their HIV status: ‘These days HIV is a treatable infection and the sooner someone living with HIV accesses treatment, the sooner the medication will reduce their viral load to undetectable. One of the goals of our testing service will be that everybody living in the Mid-West will get to know their HIV Status and be aware of Sexual Health Services within their locality. It is also important to encourage people to openly discuss their HIV Status with their sexual partner.”

While there has been a significant and welcome improvement in treatment for HIV, concern remains regarding the rising numbers of newly diagnosed cases in Ireland. New HIV diagnoses nationally have increased by 35% since 2011. A total of 498 people were diagnosed with HIV in 2015, compared with 372 in 2014. To date in 2016, there has been a 42% increase in the number of people being diagnosed with HIV – with 214 new diagnoses, compared to 151 in the same period last year. This increase now translates to an average of 10 people per week being diagnosed with HIV.

The latest HIV diagnosis figures also show that HIV remains an issue of critical concern for gay and bisexual men. The figures for 2015 show that gay and bisexual men are the group most likely to acquire HIV in Ireland. There remains a clear need for gay and bisexual men to know their HIV status.

To coincide with Irish AIDS Day, GOSHH will also launch a peer support group for people living with HIV in the Mid-West Region. The group provides a time where members can gather to share experiences, difficulties, thoughts, feelings, emotions, and positive aspects of the process they are going through in a confidential setting.

GOSHH will be providing free rapid HIV Tests on Wednesday June 15th at its centre on 18 Davis Street, Limerick. No appointment is necessary and results are available in 60 seconds.

For more details on Rapid Testing and the Peer Support Group please contact GOSHH on 061 314354 or email support@goshh.ie

 

GOSHH Roadmap

 

HIV+ HIts The News Media Again!

hiv-positiveSo our news media yet again show that headlines and ratings comes before the well being of someone, in this case it was Charlie Sheen who was forced to admit that he was HIV+.

Charlie had done nothing wrong, had not broken any laws, indeed from everything I have been able to read, he has been extremely sensible in his actions and in his advice to subsequent partners once he discovered that he had the virus.  However, the news media loved the hype, and the speculation, indeed my observation is that they went out of their way to play the situation up and to expand their readership.

HIV (Human Immunodeficiency Virus) is a virus that attacks and weakens the body’s immune system (the body’s disease fighting system). HIV makes it difficult for your body to fight against infections and cancers that it would normally be able to fight off.

If a HIV positive person does not get proper treatment, the virus may progress to AIDS (Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome). AIDS is a disease in which the immune system breaks down and the body is unable to fight off certain infections.

According to the latest figures, 320 people were diagnosed with HIV in Ireland in 2011.  That means that around 6 people are diagnosed every week with HIV. Globally, there are 34 million people currently living with HIV.

  • Your partner or one night stand can be HIV positive and not know it. Always use condoms.
  • You can be HIV positive and not know it, so if you’re sexually active it’s a good idea to have regular STI check-ups.
  • Once you have HIV, you are infected for life and have the potential to infect others….

What treatment can you get?

  • There is no cure for HIV and AIDS, but there is treatment available that helps to slow down the progress of HIV.  This treatment is called HAART (Highly Active Retroviral Therapy) or ‘the cocktail’. It works to stop the virus spreading within your body and it  requires keeping to a very strict medication schedule.
  • You will generally attend a specialist HIV clinic every three months or so to get testing done and your treatment monitored. They will also be able to advise you on safer sex and other practicalities of living with HIV. You can also get emotional support from hospital social workers and HIV organisations.
  • If you are pregnant and HIV positive, you can also receive treatment during pregnancy and labour that will help to prevent the risk of your baby being infected by the virus. You need to talk to your doctor about the available options. Your partner and recent partners should also be tested….

HIV+ is a virus, it can be fatal, but with the right treatment it need not be.  BUT, HIV is a sexually transmitted virus, just like Chlamydia and other sexually transmitted infections.  We ALL our responsible for taking the correct precautions when we decide to have sex, i.e.

Key ways include: 

  • talking to your partner about your sexual relationships;Condoms-and-safe-sex
  • contraception;
  • using condoms and dental dams;
  • being aware of how alcohol and drugs can lower inhibitions and affect decision making;
  • getting tested for sexually transmitted infections if you think you may have put yourself at risk;
  • limiting your number of sexual partners;
  • avoiding overlapping sexual relationships.

NIGRA urges everyone to be safe, and live.  Enjoy yourselves with safety in mind, and then you and your partner can enjoy the future.

condoms

 

 

Further reading:

 

Test (2013)

An astutely crafted 1985 period drama set in the gay Mecca of San Francisco, Test lovingly portrays this uniquely exciting and harrowing era as young Frankie (spectacularly lithe real-life dancer Scott Marlowe) navigates gay life in the big city alongside the travails of being an understudy in a modern dance company and his evolving relationship with fellow dancer Todd (the hunky Matthew Risch).

As the newest and youngest member of an exciting contemporary dance company Frankie faces a variety of challenges including the homophobic choreographer who commands him to, “dance like a man!” When one of his fellow dancers is injured Frankie must perform in his place. Todd, an established dancer in the same company and the bad-boy to Frankie’s innocent, helps Frankie prepare. It’s the classic test of skill and character. But a very different test looms on the horizon for both of them. As Frankie and Todd’s friendship deepens, they navigate a world full of risk… and hope.