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Campaign to reduce stigma, as stats show 50 per cent of HIV diagnoses are happening late

Latest figures from the World Health Organisation show that 1 in 3 of the 2.3 million people living with the condition in Europe are unaware that they are HIV positive.

Image: researcher via Shutterstock

SEXUAL HEALTH CLINICS and organisations around the country are campaigning to reduce the fear and stigma around HIV as part of ‘European HIV Testing Week‘.

Latest stats from the World Health Organisation show that 1 in 3 of the 2.3 million people living with the condition in Europe are unaware that they are HIV positive.

Additionally, 50 per cent of sufferers are diagnosed late, delaying access to treatment and meaning they are less likely to respond well to treatment and more likely to experience serious health complications.

According to Dr. Erin Nugent of the  Dublin AIDS Alliance: “Treatment advances over the last 30 years have meant that HIV is now seen as a chronic but manageable illness when people adhere to HIV medication.

“People who are diagnosed early and have access to treatment can expect the same life expectancy as that of HIV negative individuals. Furthermore, those that are on HIV treatment have a significantly reduced chance of transmitting HIV to other people.

“Often people do not go for HIV testing because they think they have not been at risk or because they are not experiencing any symptoms. Yet half or more of new infections derive from people living with HIV who are not yet diagnosed and therefore they remain unaware that they may be transmitting HIV to others.

The Dublin Aids Alliance is offering an additional testing session this Wednesday as part of the awareness week. Details of other sexual health testing clinics and specialists around the country are available here.

European HIV Testing Week is taking place between 22 and 29 November, and leads up to the annual ‘World AIDS Day’ on 1 December.

Related: Top scientists meet to discuss how a cure for AIDS can become a reality

Read: Study finds 42 children in Ireland diagnosed with HIV

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