On Saturday 28th November, the Sexual Health Centre will host a virtual World AIDS Day run in conjunction with sexualwellbeing.ie, Healthy Ireland and the Health Service Executive, in a bid to tackle HIV stigma and encourage people to test regularly.

There are over 6,000 people living with HIV in Ireland. Every week, 10 cases of HIV are diagnosed, with almost half of these being under the age of 35. 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, according to a recent study, 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 virtual 5K run aims to highlight the U=U message (Undetectable = Untransmittable), address existing misconceptions, normalise the process of HIV testing and reduce associated stigma.

Established in 2018, the World AIDS Day run has been previously delivered in partnership with parkrun. In light of COVID-19 restrictions, this year’s run is being held ‘virtually’ so that everyone can participate in their community. People across the country are asked to register at www.sexualhealthcentre.com.

“Each of us plays a part in reducing stigma. I’m hoping that as many people as possible can get involved so that, together, we can tackle HIV stigma in Ireland” said Dr. Martin Davoren, Executive Director of the Sexual Health Centre based in Cork.

To register for the virtual event and receive a free World AIDS Day t-shirt, please visit: www.sexualhealthcentre.com/world-aids-day-run-2020. The Sexual Health Centre will post out a free World AIDS Day dri-fit top to all participants. On 28th November, each of us will wear the dri-fit top for a walk or run to open a dialogue and address stigma in our communities.

Make sure to send a photo of yourself in the dri-fit top to the Centre by email or social media, or tag the Sexual Health Centre in any social media posts using the hashtags #WADrunIreland, #WorldAIDSday and #UequalsU. Photos can be sent to [email protected], Twitter (@shc_cork), Instagram (@shc_cork) and Facebook (@besexystayhealthy). If you can’t participate in the run, you can still join the virtual campaign by sharing the hashtags above.

The Sexual Health Centre runs a free HIV testing service, which is still available by appointment throughout restrictions. Further information on testing venues and times are available via the following links:

Sexual Health Centre: www.sexualhealthcentre.com/events
HIV Ireland:
www.hivireland.ie/hiv/testing/free-hiv-sti-testing-centre-locator/

ENDS

Contact: Olivia Teahan (Communications Officer) [email protected] / 086 138 1994

Sexual Health Centre

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