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World AIDS Day marked by 'Know Your Status' campaign

In Ireland, Taoiseach Leo Varadkar took a HIV test to raise awareness of the virus.

Image: AP/PA Images

WORLD AIDS DAY is being marked today on what is the 30th anniversary of the campaign to raise awareness of HIV and to commemorate those who have died from AIDS-related diseases. 

This year’s theme is ‘Know Your Status’, which aims to raise awareness of the fact that HIV can affect anyone regardless of age, sexuality or gender. 

It is estimated that nearly 37 million people globally live with the virus. 

In Ireland, Taoiseach Leo Varadkar took a HIV test to raise awareness and to encourage people to know their HIV status.

Effective HIV treatment reduces the virus – which attacks the immune system and which can over time progress to AIDS if left untreated – to undetectable levels.

Around 500 people are diagnosed with HIV in Ireland each year. The virus can be passed on by people who don’t know their status, the Taoiseach has said. 

It’s “virtually impossible” for people who are HIV positive and receiving treatment to pass on the virus. “That’s why it’s really important that more and more people have a HIV test, that we remove the stigma around testing” he said. 

Varadkar, who described the rapid HIV test as “pretty painless” with immediate results, said the government plans to expand HIV testing nationally and to introduce Ireland’s first PrEP programme next year. 

PrEP is a once daily medication that can significantly reduce risk of infection among HIV-negative people at high risk. 

To date, PrEP has only been available in Ireland on prescription at a price of over €400 a month for the brand-name medication, and around €100 for the generic medication. 

Separately, in Dublin, The Mansion House was lit up red this morning to highlight the existence of HIV and AIDS in Ireland while, on Wednesday, political party leaders underwent HIV tests to raise awareness for World AIDS Day. 

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