Positive Life calls on the Assembly to deliver a Sexual Health Promotion Strategy in NI
This petition had 218 supporters
There are currently 934 people know to be living with HIV in Northern Ireland, an increase of 15% on last year's 809 figure. Worryingly, this figure is rising year on year. Of those affected, approximately a third are female - detailing a trend in the increase of heterosexual transmission. Along with the increase in new HIV diagnosis in general, there is also a trend of late diagnoses, signalling that people in Northern Ireland are not regularly testing for HIV.
The lifetime cost for treating one HIV infection in the UK is almost £380,000, showing the importance of investing in prevention.
People living with HIV continue to face hugely stigmatising attitudes, many of which are exacerbated in Northern Ireland. A recent survey indicates that of those living with HIV in NI, 61% feel ashamed of their diagnosis, compared to 49% elsewhere in the UK. The same survey revealed that 68% of people in NI, diagnosed with HIV, have a negative self-image, compared to 56% elsewhere in the UK.
To combat the misconceptions and stigma around HIV, Positive Life stands firm in the belief that a public awareness campaign is urgently required. Positive Life also believes that taking ownership of and understanding one’s sexual health is the key contributor in reducing instances of HIV in Northern Ireland, as HIV is an entirely preventable condition.
Positive Life is calling for a sexual health promotion strategy, focusing on awareness raising and education. The objective of the strategy is to prioritise for the future - HIV is a condition that potentially affects everyone in NI – we will all engage in sexual activity at some point in our lives. Should an official strategy not be implemented, it is likely that current trends in HIV will remain.
The key components Positive Life would like the strategy to represent are as follows:
- Create an effective public awareness campaign in an effort to tackle to the misconceptions around HIV amongst people in NI
- Introduce Sexual Health as an official subject on the NI curriculum across all second level school
Positive Life is the only registered charity specifically dedicated to supporting anyone living with or affected by HIV in NI. For more information, visit www.positivelifeni.com
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