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Health Awareness Q4 2023

To end AIDS, let communities lead and power progress

people working in team
people working in team
iStock / Getty Images Plus / AnnaStills

Robbie Lawlor

Community activist and Co-Founder, Access to Medicines Ireland

Human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) transmission rates are now beginning to fall in Ireland compared to 2019 levels.

Access to treatment for people living with HIV in Ireland is increasing. This treatment enables people living with HIV to have long lives and prevents onward transmission. Around the world too, while the job is not yet done, the HIV response has secured remarkable gains.

Tackling stigma and facing HIV with pride

Crucial to progress has been tackling stigma. Stigma keeps people away from prevention, testing and treatment. Tackling stigma saves lives and transforms people’s qualityof life. I’m proud to be part of a growing movement highlighting that people living with HIV can not only survive, but we can also thrive.

This medical condition is no reason to be ashamed. As I have found, the experience of living with HIV doesn’t make you unlovable, it is just one extra thing that someone is going to love about you and you’re going to love about yourself. We are tackling the epidemic of silence. The momentum is palpable in Irish society and globally.

For the AIDS response to succeed,
let communities lead.

Supporting communities for HIV breakthroughs

Communities of people living with HIV, and those at risk of HIV, are powering progress. All these achievements take our time, our expertise and our energy. That is why it is so vital that communities are fully supported; we require more than just being granted a seat at the table; we need authorities to enable us to lead — and we need to be resourced for the work that we do. The most important lesson is this: for the AIDS response to succeed, let communities lead.

Robbie Lawlor launched this year’s UNAIDS World AIDS Day report, together with the Executive Director of UNAIDS Winnie Byanyima at an event in the UK: Let Communities Lead in the fight to end AIDS | UNAIDS

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