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Taoiseach supports call to stamp out HIV stigma

Today saw the launch of Stamp out Stigma, a national awareness campaign aimed at tackling the stigma and discrimination associated with HIV and AIDS.

The launch was attended by An Taoiseach Bertie Ahern as well as Julia Lysander, who is Concern’s HIV and AIDS Coordinator in Liberia. Julia brought a developing world perspective on how stigma not only causes personal trauma, but leads to the spread of HIV.

Stamp Out Stigma draws attention to the discrimination faced by people living with HIV and AIDS in Ireland and further a field. People with HIV and AIDS experience many forms of prejudice, ranging from restrictions in travel, access to healthcare services and financial services. The key principles of the campaign are to tackle related stigma and to promote a greater acceptance of people living with HIV and AIDS.

The Stamp out Stigma campaign is being championed by An Taoiseach, Bertie Ahern, and involves the Departments of Health and Children and Foreign Affairs, together with organisations working in the area of HIV and AIDS, including domestic and international non governmental organisations.

Taoiseach Bertie Ahern said: “The fear and lack of understanding surrounding HIV acts as a barrier for people to access prevention, treatment and care services, even when they are available. We must all work together to make our societies more open and caring, more inclusive and less judgemental.”

A number of awareness raising activities are planned between Irish Aids Day and World Aids Day on 1 December 2007. They include a high-profile advertising campaign, information workshops on HIV and AIDS and over 100,000 campaign postcards being distributed across Ireland as a call to action for people to become more informed about HIV and AIDS. An online educational resource will also be made available at http://www.stampoutstigma.ie/ providing key facts on HIV and simple steps individuals can take to combat HIV related stigma and discrimination. 

Danny Rowan spoke with Julie Lysander about the campaign.  (file 11MB)