On Saturday 4th of December, the Sexual Health Centre will host its annual World AIDS Day run in conjunction with the HSE Sexual Health and Crisis Pregnancy Programme (SHCPP), Parkrun and Healthy Ireland, in a bid to highlight free rapid HIV testing services, and to tackle HIV stigma.
It is estimated that over 7,000 people in Ireland are living with HIV today. About 15% of that number don’t know that they have HIV as they have never been tested or have contracted HIV since their last test. Ciarán Lynch, Chairperson of the Sexual Health Centre highlights how the U=U message (Undetectable = Untransmittable) has changed the landscape for people living with HIV. Referencing the advances in treatment, Mr Lynch noted that “people living with HIV, who take treatment daily as prescribed and achieve and maintain an undetectable viral load have no risk of sexually transmitting the virus to a HIV-negative partner.”
However, a study published by the Sexual Health Centre has shown that misinformation within the Irish population regarding HIV still exists. Many people still believe that HIV can be transmitted through saliva, kissing or sharing utensils. This lack of knowledge reinforces existing stigma and has a strong negative impact on people living with HIV and their families. The World AIDS Day free 5K fun run aims to highlight free rapid HIV testing available to key populations and spread the U=U message (Undetectable = Untransmittable) in order to tackle HIV-related stigma.
The World AIDS Day run has gone from strength to strength since its inception in 2018. This year, the run will be hosted in partnership with parkruns in Ballincollig Regional Park, Glen River Park and Tralee Town Park. In light of public health measures, this year’s run is also being held ‘virtually’ so that those who are not attending a parkrun venue can participate in their local community instead. People across the country are asked to register at www.sexualhealthcentre.com.
“Early diagnosis is extremely important in relation to care and treatment. Medical advances in recent years mean that people in Ireland who are HIV positive can live full and healthy lives. I’m hoping we can get as many people as possible to join us on the 4th of December to highlight the free rapid HIV testing services available to key populations, and to tackle HIV stigma in Ireland” said Dr. Martin Davoren, Executive Director of the Sexual Health Centre based in Cork.
This initiative is funded by the SHCPP. To register for the virtual event and receive a free World AIDS Day dri-fit t-shirt, please visit: www.sexualhealthcentre.com/wadrun2021.The Sexual Health Centre will send a free World AIDS Day dri-fit top to all participants. On the 4th of December, each participant will wear the dri-fit t-shirt for a walk or run to open a dialogue, highlight testing services, and address stigma in their communities.
Participants are asked to either send a selfie in their dri-fit top to the Centre by email or social media, or to tag the Sexual Health Centre in any social media posts using the hashtags #WADrunIreland, #WorldAIDSday, #KnowYourStatus and #UequalsU.
Photos can also be sent to email@example.com, Twitter (@shc_cork), Instagram (@shc_cork) and Facebook (@besexystayhealthy). Those who can’t participate in the run can still join the virtual campaign by sharing the hashtags above.
The Sexual Health Centre runs a free rapid HIV testing service for key populations.