Council lights up for World AIDS Day

Council buildings in Newry, Mourne and Down District Council have been lit up red in recognition of World AIDS Day on 1 December.
Newry's Christmas lights were switched on on Thursday night.Newry's Christmas lights were switched on on Thursday night.
Newry's Christmas lights were switched on on Thursday night.

Northern Ireland’s only dedicated HIV and AIDS charity, Positive Life, is reminding the public that while HIV is a life-changing condition, it is no longer a life-threatening condition. Modern drug treatment offer people with HIV a near-normal life expectancy.

In 2022, there were 1,325 people in Northern Ireland living with HIV and 76 new cases of HIV were diagnosed.

The charity says the key is to get tested as early as possible. A third of new HIV diagnoses in 2022 were made at a late stage, meaning that the virus may have already had a significant impact on their health and potentially others’. It is estimated that the majority of onward transmission in Northern Ireland is from those with undiagnosed HIV.

Positive Life Chief Executive Jacquie Richardson said,

“Positive Life’s message this World AIDS Day is U=U: timely drug treatment brings the HIV viral load down to a level so low that it is Undetectable. At this level, it is also Untransmittable, meaning someone living with HIV, on effective treatment, can have sex and can give birth to children without fear of onward transmission.”

“In spite of these dramatic advances in treatment, HIV still carries a lot of negative stigma. Our service users tell us that coping with the stigma brings a mental health burden far greater than the physical effects of the virus. Frustratingly, this is often based on completely outdated and inaccurate information.”

“We are now on a mission to make Northern Ireland the first UK region to reach the World Health Organisation’s target of Zero New Diagnosis by 2030. This goal is very achievable with improved education, awareness and more testing. Northern Ireland could be the first region to reach zero – how amazing would that be?”

Positive Life, which offers rapid testing at its premises in Belfast, is urging anyone who thinks they may have put themselves at risk, to get tested early.

For information visit www.positivelifeni.com or call 0800 137437.

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