World AIDS Day everyday to reduce stigma

The stigma that people with HIV routinely face discourages many from testing and others from being open about their HIV status.— Matthew Hodson | @matthew_hodson

This is a major problem in fighting HIV. I still maintain that until more people living with HIV stand up and come out, tell their friends and family, colleagues and acquaintances, that they are living with HIV, it is going to be difficult to reduce the stigma.

There is a concentration of stories about HIV at the moment because of World AIDS Day (WAD) on 1st December. WAD concentrates the coverage, but we in my opinion everyday is WAD. Every day those of us living with HIV and our allies raise awareness in our own ways.

Read the rest of Matthew Hodson’s article here.

#StandUpToHIV – AVERT campaign tackles fears of HIV

#StandUpToHIV – AVERT campaign tackles fears of HIV

46% of people living with HIV do not know they have it. Stigma surrounding HIV remains one of the biggest reasons people are not testing. 

To mark World AIDS Day (1 December 2015) HIV charity AVERT has launched an animation to help people overcome fears and worries about HIV – something which is stopping millions of people from getting tested for the virus.

Yesterday they launched their Stand Up to HIV campaign to challenge people to overcome their fear of HIV. They want to encourage testing for HIV by promoting knowledge of the facts about HIV and living with the virus and by challenging HIV stigma. With World AIDS Day (1st December) just around the corner, we must all support others to stand up to fear, stand up to HIV and get tested.

Avert recognises that HIV stigma is a huge barrier to getting tested. To tackle this they have developed a new webpage that talks people through the most common concerns regarding HIV. We have also launched an animation to help people overcome their fears of HIV and worries about HIV. Both of these resources tackle common worries expressed by users of our online information service,, and encourage people to prioritise their health over their fears.

AVERT Chief Executive, Sarah Hand, says:

“We regularly hear from people in all parts of the world who are still worried about the HIV test itself, what people might think of them, or of getting a positive diagnosis.

“The reality is that fear stops people from getting the help they need. With this campaign we aim to change this and ensure people are empowered to take action to protect their health and drive down new infections. We want to let people know that testing is quick, easy and confidential and that treatment means HIV-positive people can live a healthy life. Knowing the facts will encourage people to take their health in their own hands and get tested”.

You can support the ‘Stand Up to HIV’ campaign on Facebook and Twitter, by sharing the animation and ‘I’m worried about HIV’ webpage, and help spread the information people need to overcome their fears and get tested.

AVERT developed the Stand Up to HIV campaign in support of the UNAIDS 90-90-90 treatment target, which highlights HIV stigma as one of the major barriers to ending the AIDS epidemic.

HIV treatment for all living with HIV says EACS. What do you think?

The new European AIDS Clinical Society (EACS) HIV clinical guidelines recommend antiretroviral treatment for all living with HIV. What are your thoughts? Please fill in this survey from and tell them what you think.
The new European AIDS Clinical Society (EACS) HIV clinical guidelines were released at the 15th European AIDS Conference which brings Europe into line with the rest of the world by recommending HIV treatment upon diagnosis for everyone living with HIV.
Other changes in the new guidelines include a positive recommendation for pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP), which brings them into line with the US, World Health Organization (WHO) and British HIV Association (BHIVA) guidelines. PrEP is “recommended” for “men who have sex with men and transgender individuals, who are inconsistent in their use of condoms with casual partners or with HIV-positive partners who are not on treatment,” and “may be considered” for “heterosexual men and women who are inconsistent in their use of condoms and are likely to have HIV-positive partners who are not on treatment.”
Is HIV stigma still a problem in Dublin?

Is HIV stigma still a problem in Dublin?

For many of us living with HIV there is always the niggling thought at the back of our heads that other people will talk about our status, often behind our backs, and if we are particularly unfortunate it may even be to our face.

The number of times that I have had negative responses to my face from people knowing that I am living with HIV can be counted on the fingers of one hand. But it seems that I have been lucky.


“the accounts of a group of gay men living with HIV in Dublin, most of whom rarely, if ever, disclose their HIV status to casual sexual partners” (

come the stark revelation of the extent of HIV stigma in the gay community in the city. In the study,

Murphy notes the language used by his interviewees – ‘slut’, ‘leper’, ‘criminal’ and ‘AIDS-riddled whore’. In this context, not disclosing HIV status was a form of self-protection. The benefits of disclosure were uncertain while its negative consequences were all too frightening.

Can we do anything to help stop this stigma?

I am Not Dirty. I am HIV Positive.
I am Not Dirty. I am HIV Positive.

It is now two months until World Aids Day 2015. I have been thinking about what I can do to mark the day. In the last few years, I have been interviewed by several newspapers, broadcast media, and have spoken to school students in Assembly as well.

One idea that springs to my mind is organising to take part in the People Living With HIV Stigma Index. The Index helps to increase the understanding of how stigma and discrimination is experienced by people living with HIV. The evidence gained can then shape future programmatic interventions and policy change.

Policy and programme managers have long recognised that action is needed to address stigma and discrimination. The information gained from the Index will provide evidence for the success (or failures) of current programmes and highlight neglected areas requiring future action. These include improving workplace policies, informing debates about the criminalisation of HIV transmission, and promoting the realization of human rights. Consequently, the Index will be a powerful advocacy tool which will support the collective goal of Governments, NGOs and activists alike to reduce the stigma and discrimination linked to HIV. (

I am somewhat surprised not to find Ireland within the countries that have taken part. Who is up for helping change this?

Hopefully after a trip to the GP I may be able to sleep

Hopefully after a trip to the GP I may be able to sleep

I have had a cough since the beginning of September, my GP gave me an inhaler but it did not really do anything for me.

Niamh (white) and Richard (tabby). Photo: © 2014 John Carchrie Campbell
Niamh (white) and Richard (tabby). Photo: © 2014 John Carchrie Campbell

The only relief I really got was after being round the camp fire with my Scouting friends at Gilwell Reunion in London. Progressively it has got worse, and I have been sleeping very badly quite often in the living room to let Andrew sleep himself. Fortunately I have been kept company at night by our cats, Scholastica, Niamh, and Richard (pictured right when very small) and also Wee Gee or others of his mates.

So this morning, after a couple of hours’ kip and after prompting from Andrew I managed to ring my GP and got an appointment for twenty minutes after I called. When I lived in the UK, I don’t remember

  • getting through on the phone to the practice on the first call without being in a queue for ages;
  • getting a same day appointment very easily

So, I got dressed, went to the cash machine, and then went round to the GP. Fortunately the surgery is only about five minutes’ walk from the house.

There was a bit of a wait in the waiting room, but that is normal in any practice, and then I was seen.

My GP prescribed both antibiotics and steroids. She also made sure that I knew to contact the surgery again if it does not get better. I think she may want another chest X-ray done.

Meds to take

The prescription this time is not quite as simple as past prescriptions, but what I have been given is:

  • 21 Germentin 500mg/125mg (
    Take one three times daily for seven days (so far so good)
  • 22 Deltacortril Ent 5mg Gast
    Take six today, five tomorrow, then four, three, two, one, and one… (told you it was a bit complicated)

A friend had similar problems earlier in the autumn, and he suggested that I take them two hours before bedtime. Sadly there was no patient information leaflet with them, but I have found one online (An tÚdarás Rialála Táirgí Sláinte). So I now know to take them after a meal… fortunately Andrew has just returned from a trip to the local Tesco to get chicken goujons and mashed potato.

Watch this space for further updates.

Useful websites

If you live in the European Union, and want to find out more about medicines, I found a useful website, that of the European Medicines Agency (EMA). Lots of information is available there, so will be exploring myself.

In Ireland, An tÚdarás Rialála Táirgí Sláinte (Health Products Regulatory Authority) is also useful.

Thanks to @imstilljosh for last year’s nomination…

Thanks to @imstilljosh for last year’s nomination…

This evening I have been doing a bit of research into where is linking to this blog from the Internet around the world. I was a bit surprised to find some of the places. However, amongst them I found that I was among those nominated for the Top HIV Voices 2014.

These “Top HIV Voices for 2014″ embody the passion that it requires to build a community from a fundamentally limited beginning— sharing a personal story or contributing in a small but grand way to the global conversation surrounding the HIV community, HIV activism and the reduction of new HIV infections; advocating for increased awareness, decreased stigma, and the chance eventually to an AIDS-free generation.—Josh Robbins

The website on which it is found is a Belgian one, so I was even more surprised. It might be a bit late to say thanks… but I am. So Thanks Josh for nominating me.

QUB research into stigma in gay men living with HIV

QUB research into stigma in gay men living with HIV

Stigma experiences, well-being and medication adherence in gay men living with HIV

If you live in England, Northern Ireland, or the Republic or Ireland and are over 18 years of age, been living with HIV for over a year, and have been prescribed HA-ART medication then a researcher from Queen’s University Belfast would like 20 minutes of your time:

It’s for a study exploring stigma in gay men living with HIV, and how this influences well-being and management of HIV medication.

For more information click here.