Limerick joins global initiative in bid to boost HIV awareness and testing

Fintan Walsh, Health Correspondent

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Fintan Walsh, Health Correspondent

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fintan.walsh@limerickleader.ie

Limerick joins global initiative in bid to boost HIV awareness and testing

The Taoiseach made the announcement this Thursday

HIV awareness and testing in Limerick is to get a funding boost, the Taoiseach Leo Varadkar has announced this Thursday. 

This comes after the Taoiseach, alongside Minister for Health Simon Harris and Minister of State for Health Promotion Catherine Byrne, signed up to the Fast Track Cities global initiative, designed to boost HIV prevention and to reduce stigma.

As a result, Limerick, Cork, Galway and Dublin have signed up to the initiative, which includes almost 300 cities from all over the world. 

And to kick-start the initiative in Ireland, the four cities have received funding of €450,000. 

The funding will support HIV awareness, testing, and national stigma reduction campaign. The funding will also help reach the target of 3,250 rapid tests in 2019. 

Taoiseach Varadkar said that the Government wants to reduce the number of people who contract HIV, and that this collaboration will help identify and share best practice.

"We want to make it easier for people to get tested and know their status, as people who know their status get treated and are far less likely to pass it on." 

“Under the HIV Fast Track Cities initiative we will further expand community HIV testing and raise awareness about the benefits of treatment. We’re backing this up with real money; €450,000 for testing in Galway, Cork, Limerick and Dublin and a national awareness programme. By working at local level we can get to the people we need to reach and bring down HIV rates across Ireland.”

Minister for Health Simon Harris said: “Sexual health is one of our key priorities under Healthy Ireland and reducing the number of new HIV diagnoses in Ireland is a priority focus for me as Minister for Health. I also want to pay tribute to the ongoing work of Minister Byrne in this regard.

“The aim of the Fast Track Cities initiative is to boost current HIV prevention and intervention work.

“In this regard I was very pleased to be able to allocate additional funding of €450,000 to the HSE specifically for developments such as community-based HIV testing and outreach services, as well as public campaigns on stigma reduction and promotion of the new PrEP programme later this year.”

Minister for Health Promotion Catherine Byrne said: “Ireland’s participation in the Fast Track Cities initiative reinforces our commitment to stepping up our response to HIV. We want to break down the stigma around HIV and make information, testing and treatment easily accessible, particularly for at-risk groups."

Bernard Condon SC, Chairperson of HIV Ireland, said: “We warmly welcome the Government's commitment to Fast Track Cities, and acknowledge the Taoiseach and Minister for Health's role in bringing us to this important point. This step has the capacity to make a real and significant impact in people's lives. HIV Ireland and our colleagues across the country will play our role in helping Ireland meet its commitments to reduce new HIV infections, increase testing and tackle stigma for people living with HIV. We are proud that our country is committing to these goals.”