Is HIV stigma still a problem in Dublin?

I am Not Dirty. I am HIV Positive.

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

WeeGee is a cuddly cat from Build-a-Bear Workshop just like this one.

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…


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

Photo: William Murphy, 2012.

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.

Irish Independent says “Aids virus”: what century are we living in?

“…the Aids virus…” in the Irish Independent, p.19, Tuesday 21 July 2015.

This evening I was reading a copy of today’s Irish Independent as I ate my evening meal. I was somewhat taken aback to read on page nineteen:

Aids virus hope

A teenage girl born with the Aids virus…

This is very bad reporting of an issue about someone living with HIV. I begin to wonder what century the Irish Independent is living in. To quote the NAT Guidelines for reporting HIV,

“HIV and AIDS are different, and it’s important to make this clear. As it is a syndrome, a collection of symptoms, AIDS cannot itself be transmitted, nor can there be an AIDS virus, nor an AIDS carrier. Someone either does or does not have AIDS. There are no degrees of AIDS, so the expression ‘full blown AIDS’ is meaningless.”

Guidelines for reporting HIV, June 2010.

Let me emphasize:

…AIDS cannot itself be transmitted, nor can there be an AIDS virus,…

It really is not that complicated.

I am writing to the Editor of the Irish Independent seeking an assurance that the newspaper will amend how it reports issues surrounding HIV in the future. Perhaps someone in Ireland needs to do an Irish version of the Australian website, HIV Media Guide. Anyone willing to help?

Stitches in the other two – makes me worried

On the Royal Canal Way near Drumcondra you can find Brendan Behan. Photos: MJPB Carchrie Campbell 2015

Yesterday, I was in bits all day. One of our three cats, Niamh, was at the vet’s from about nine in the morning until six in the evening. Quite simply she was having the operation that all domestic cats ought to have, she was being neutered. This was the first time that I, as a cat owner – sorry member of cat staff – had to drop one of the furry friends off to the vet on my own. Andrew, had done this many times, but I had never done it. Until yesterday.

Off we went in a taxi called by Hailo, which is a very convenient and useful app available for hailing taxis. Niamh was in her carrier placed on the back seat of the vehicle with the door of the carrier against the door of the car so she didn’t get too frightened. We arrived at the Botanic Veterinary Hospital opposite the National Botanic Garden in Glasnevin. A lovely practice with very helpful staff, I was immediately put at my ease, and more importantly so was our little princess, Niamh. I left her in and walked back to the house. On my way I walked down the Royal Canal Way and bumped into a statue of Brendan Behan and found quite a number of what seem to be very deep locks in the canal.

On the Royal Canal Way near Drumcondra you can find Brendan Behan. Photos: MJPB Carchrie Campbell 2015
On the Royal Canal Way near Drumcondra you can find Brendan Behan. Photos: MJPB Carchrie Campbell 2015

All day I was worried about her, as were the other two feline residents: Scholastica (her mother) and Richard (her brother). All was quiet in the house. In the early evening I walked back up the Royal Canal Way and up to Glasnevin, Niamh was fine, she was awake from the anaesthetic and was a little grumpy (understandably). We used Hailo again and got back to the house just after Andrew had arrived home from work. Then came the awkward bit, we had to separate the cats as Richard started to growl at his sister. I suspect it is because she smells funny from having been at the vets’. But it really is not helpful.

This morning, Andrew has to go to get stitches removed from his head following minor surgery to remove a cyst last week. Niamh has to return to the vet on Thursday for a check up, and then a week later to have her stitches removed.

I love how there are so many places to go for a walk in and around this city, I will have to introduce Andrew to the Royal Canal Way.

Back in March 2009, on diagnosis, I never thought that I would ever have cats, and I never ever dreamed that I would have a loving husband, but I have both. And life is well worth living.

The first of us to leave…

Good bye to Gibraltar from the cats.

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Scholastica, Niamh, and Richard are all set for the beginning of their great adventure. They are going just across the border to La Línea de la Concepción to begin their chauffeur-driven journey to Caergybi. They have no need of quarantine as they have their nice Gibraltarian EU pet passports. They are the equivalent of the Red ID card! We will retrieve them from there on Tuesday. And then we all will go and welcome them to their new abode in Dublin.


Oh, did I forget to announce that?

Yes. Andrew and I have enjoyed our time in Gibraltar, but he has got a new job in the Irish capital, working with another technology company, also as a technical writer… so we are moving there effective Monday afternoon.

So, I am sure there will be a whole new set of posts about negotiating the Irish system of healthcare. I have a couple of posts to put up about Gibraltar when I leave. But in the midst of all the moving… there is simply not time.

Over 400 signatories asking Nigel Farage for HIV apology.

Nigel Farage during the Leaders’ Debate.
ACT UP is a diverse, non-partisan group of individuals, united in anger and committed to direct action to end the HIV pandemic.

Along with 375 other people and 44 organisations, I signed the letter composed by ACT UP London, an HIV activist group, which corrects inaccuracies in Nigel Farage’s claims during the televised leaders’ debate in the run up to the UK Parliamentary General Election.

During the leaders’ debate on 2 April, Mr Farage claimed: “Here’s a fact… there are 7,000 diagnoses in this country every year for people that are HIV positive… 60% of them are not British nationals.” He further stated treatment costs up to £25,000 per year per patient. Each of these claims is inaccurate, addressed by the letter with reference to the accurate statistics.

Mr Farage’s claims are wild, and scaremongering. They will divide our communities and further create stigma to people who are living with HIV. Read more