Today, Irish AIDS Day, 15th June 2016, the Lord Mayor of Dublin, Críona Ní Dhálaigh, launches a campaign highlighting the increased risk of HIV infection amongst people who inject drugs, particularly ‘snow blow’.
The Ana Liffey Drug Project and HIV Ireland are taking action to address increasing HIV diagnoses amongst people who use snow blow by providing harm reduction and HIV prevention information for people who inject drugs. Resources created include an information leaflet, posters and a factsheet, which will be distributed widely as well as promoted on social media and via the drugs.ie website.
Speaking before the launch in the Mansion House, The Lord Mayor of Dublin, Críona Ní Dhálaigh, highlighted Ireland’s upward trend in HIV diagnoses:
“New HIV diagnoses in Ireland have increased to their highest level on record in 2015. Provisional data published by the HSE Health Protection Surveillance Centre shows that a total of 491 people were newly diagnosed with HIV in 2015 – a 30% increase over 2014 figures. Data also shows a significant increase in HIV diagnoses amongst people who inject drugs with a 67% increase in 2015, many of whom are people who are homeless in Dublin”.
The Lord Mayor praised the efforts of both partner organisations to address the specific needs of at risk groups:
“I want to commend the Ana Liffey Drug Project and HIV Ireland for working together, sharing their expertise, and providing much needed harm reduction information to people who are more vulnerable to HIV. This targeted initiative is very much in line with Ireland’s Healthy Ireland framework for improved health and well-being to address the specific needs of at-risk groups to reduce health inequalities.”
Niall Mulligan, Executive Director of the national charity HIV Ireland added:
“We are working in partnership with the Ana Liffey Drug Project to play our part in addressing the increasing HIV diagnoses amongst people who inject drugs; we must reverse this trend in new HIV diagnoses. The Government needs to invest in the prevention of HIV – including more access to free testing in a variety of settings and a sustained national HIV prevention and awareness campaign – and HIV prevention should be included as a priority action in the next National Drugs Strategy.”
Tony Duffin, Director of the Ana Liffey Drug Project also commented:
“Depending on a person’s drug habit, a person who injects heroin may inject about four times a day; however, people who inject snow blow may inject every two hours. More injecting means more blood exposure and this means more risk. This makes someone more vulnerable to HIV; Hep C; death by overdose, abscesses, etc.”
“This increase in HIV in Dublin amongst people who inject drugs and who have multiple and complex needs, further highlights the need for Supervised Injecting Facilities. It is essential that the draft legislation in relation to Supervised Injecting Facilities is debated, finalised and enacted as a matter of urgency – if we are to save lives and taxpayers money.”
The upward trend in HIV diagnoses has continued in 2016 with provisional data showing 231 new HIV diagnoses up to week 22 of 2016, compared to 167 during the same period last year – a 38% increase. Ireland now has an average of 10 people per week being diagnosed with HIV. Official figures are likely to understate the scale of the crisis as the European Centre for Disease Prevention Control (ECDC)/WHO Regional Office for Europe estimate that 30% of people living with HIV are undiagnosed. It is therefore likely the number of people living with HIV in Ireland is considerably higher than the number of diagnosed cases.
To download the campaign leaflet, posters and factsheet visit
For information about HIV, testing, safer sex, and support, visit