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Dublin: 9 °C Saturday 25 October, 2014

Is Ireland doing enough to help the global fight against AIDS?

Charities say Ireland has traditionally been at the forefront, but on World AIDS Day they say that support is slipping.

Kampala Meugo Primary School in Ugand where thirty per cent of pupils have been orphaned by AIDS.
Kampala Meugo Primary School in Ugand where thirty per cent of pupils have been orphaned by AIDS.
Image: Eye Ubiquitous/Press Association Images

HIV AND AIDS are falling down the Irish Government’s list of priorities in it’s international aid programme according to Irish charities.

To mark World AIDS Day, Dóchas, the umbrella group of Irish development NGOs, has said that Ireland’s latest aid plan seems to have placed less of an importance on HIV relief.

Dóchas says this is despite Ireland showing “a historic commitment” to global HIV services.

Iireland’s past record as a leader is AIDS relief has to be maintained according to Noreen Gumbo of Trócaire who is chair of the Dóchas working group on HIV and AIDS.

Ireland has always championed the cause of the HIV response internationally, and spent a significant portion of its development aid budget on HIV and AIDS responses. But a new government policy for international development, ‘One World One Future’, was launched in May of this year, in which it appears HIV is afforded less of a priority.

Dóchas want the Government to renew their commitment to spend €100 million per year on HIV and other infectious diseases, of which 20 per cent of this should be specifically dedicated to children Dóchas argue.

Education and contraception in Africa

Ireland’s AIDS assistance will be discussed at a conference in Galway this afternoon with the director of Irish Aid Brendan Rodgers one of those who will speak.

Jesuit priest Fr Michael Kelly, who has been working in Zambia since the 1960s, will also be speaking at the conference and will argue that education, particularly of women, is of upmost importance in preventing the spread of AIDS in Africa.

“Gender inequalities continue to be a major driving force behind the AIDS epidemic, ” he contends. “Many factors increase the vulnerability of women and girls to HIV, such as denying women sexual health knowledge as well as practices that prevent them from controlling their bodies or deciding the terms on which they have sex.”

“This is made worse by their limited access to economic opportunities, ” he says.

Fine Gael TD Olivia Mitchell is also part of the conference and she makes the point that contraception must be key to any policy in the fight against HIV an AIDS:

Unless women’s reproductive health is central to development policy, the poorest women in the most disadvantaged societies will continue to be trapped in cycles of poverty and ill health, to the detriment of their countries’ development.

Read: Scientists meet to discuss ending the world’s AIDS pandemic >

Read: Infidelity is a major cause of Africa’s HIV epidemic – study >

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