November 2015 | Samhain 2015

Innovative HIV Testing Awareness Campaign Hits Coffee Shops throughout Dublin City

Mon, 23 November 15 17:06

-Campaign coincides with European HIV and Hepatitis Testing Week (20-27 November)

-UCD Research Group and HIV Ireland team up to design coffee cup sleeves

-9% increase in new HIV infections detected in Ireland to date in 2015

As part of the European HIV and Hepatitis Testing week (20-27 November), the UCD HIV Molecular Research Group (HMRG) and HIV Ireland have designed coffee cup ‘sleeves’ to highlight this important health information week and to encourage people in Dublin to get a HIV test. This week, 10,000 coffee cup sleeves promoting HIV testing will be distributed to coffee shops throughout Dublin city. HMRG hope to maximise their message by asking celebrities and members of the public to post selfies of themselves holding the coffee cup designs under the hashtag #HIVTestWeek and #DublinKnows as an indication of support for increased awareness around HIV and testing.

Dr Patrick Mallon, Associate Dean for Research and Innovation within UCD School of Medicine and head of UCD HIV Molecular Research Group (HMRG) said:

To date in 2015 in Ireland, 411 new HIV infections have been detected in comparison to a total of 377 in 2014. This equates to a 9% increase in new infections to date in 2015 compared to all of last year. Innovative health promotion campaigns such as this one which the UCD HIV Molecular Research Group is rolling out in partnership with HIV Ireland are designed to reiterate the importance of HIV testing.

The pioneering M-BRiHT Project was presented at European AIDS Clinical Society (EACS) meeting in Barcelona recently.  The project, known as M-BRiHT (Mater-Bronx Rapid HIV Testing), sees collaboration between UCD, the Mater Misericordiae University Hospital and the Jacobi Medical Centre in the Bronx, New York.  The M-BRiHT study offers free rapid HIV testing and novel video-based counselling and information to anyone attending the Emergency Department.  To date, over 12,000 people have enrolled in the study with almost 90% of those opting to take the rapid test. 

Results showed HIV to be present in 2.08 cases of every thousand patients taking the test. The programme is expanding with a centre opening in Manchester this month and another planned to open in Italy in the next 6 months. Currently, plans are in place to introduce this approach into standard care within the Mater Misericordiae University Hospital in 2016 complete with the innovative, video-based information and counselling platform.

The Department of Health has recently provided funding to the Gay and Lesbian Equality Network (GLEN) for a national rapid HIV testing pilot study. In Ireland, the average age at diagnosis is 33 ranging from 18 to 77 years old with 49% of new diagnoses reported in men who have sex with men. The Mater Misericordiae University Hospital is linked to 20% of all new diagnoses in Ireland.

ENDS

Notes to the Editor:

HIV Facts

  • HIV is a viral illness which targets the immune system of those it infects
  • HIV does not typically present with noticeable symptoms until the immune system has been considerably weakened
  • If left untreated HIV can progress to AIDS
  • There is no cure for HIV but it can be treated and well managed with daily medications

Common routes of HIV transmission

  • Engaging in vaginal or anal sex with someone who has HIV
  • Sharing needles with someone who has HIV if injecting drugs

Prevention

  • Always use a condom
  • Don't share needles or works
  • Keep you and your partners safe by getting tested for HIV and other STIs regularly
  • Knowing your status is important. In 2014, almost 50% of new HIV diagnoses were detected in late stage infection. This carries increased risk of HIV-related illness

Where to get tested

  • Mater Hospital STI clinic Mon-Wed 1.45-6pm

Rapid mouth swab tests available in the Emergency Department of the Mater Hospital, HIV Testing Week:  Monday 23rd November 2015 – Friday 28th November 2015 8am to 5pm

  • HIV Ireland providing free testing Wednesday 25th November from 1pm
  • GMHS, Baggot St, providing free testing Tuesday 24th to Wednesday 25th November  from 5pm to 6:30pm
  • Outhouse, Capel St, providing free testing Saturday 21st November from  1:30pm to 3pm

Statistics from Health Protection Surveillance Centre and HMRG:  HIV in Ireland – 2014

  • HIV infections detected to date 2015: 411

Total HIV infections diagnosed 2014: 377

9% increase in new infections to date in 2015 compared to all of last year

  • Average age at diagnosis is 33 ranging from 18 to 77 years old.
  • 49% of new diagnoses were reported in men who have sex with men (MSM)
  • 20% of all new diagnoses in Ireland are linked to care at the Mater Hospital

Media Contact:

Sue Hayden, Communications Manager, UCD School of Medicine suzanne.hayden@ucd.ie 086 6053853