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World Aids Day

World Aids Day

“I stood up and said –‘My name is Daphine. I am nineteen years old, and I’m HIV positive.’

This made me so proud of myself.”

HIV is not a disease of the past. Currently over 36.7 million people are living with HIV around the globe, and HIV is disproportionally affecting young people, and in particular young women and girls. December 1st marks World AIDS Day, which is dedicated to raising awareness of the AIDS pandemic caused by the spread of HIV infection, and mourning those who have died of the disease.

Ms. Daphine Abaho is a young Ugandan woman who is living with HIV. She works as a peer educator with Mildmay Uganda, and is a past participant of the International HIV/AIDS Alliance’s hugely successful Link UP initiative which empowers young people to demand and take up integrated HIV and sexual and reproductive health programmes. Daphine works as an educator and advocate to support other young people to live healthily, helping those living with HIV to lead their lives to the fullest, and those who are HIV negative to be protected against transmission.

Daphine represents the crux of the HIV epidemic – in the hardest hit countries, girls represent 80% of new cases amongst adolescents. In South Africa, which has the largest HIV epidemic in the world today, adolescent girls are eight times more likely to be living with HIV than boys of the same age. If we do not take action against this, it will be impossible to beat the HIV epidemic, and the experience of Daphine, and those like her will be instrumental in how we do this.

You can see Daphine’s story for yourself here:  

Daphine’s story represents an international perspective, and the perspective of the hardest hit countries. But HIV is still an issue here in Ireland too. Record numbers of people were diagnosed with HIV in Ireland in 2016. Robbie Lawlor, a young Irish man living with HIV spoke of his experiences and work as a HIV activist and advocate for people living with HIV here in Ireland last year.

“We need to tell people, HIV may change you, but you will not be reduced by it”

Robbie’s story is one of resilience and positivity, and you can see for yourself how he describes his experiences here:

Daphine is one of the speakers that will be joining us for this year’s Father Michael Kelly lecture on HIV, which will take place from 5.30 – 7.30pm on Tuesday 28th November 2017 in the Royal Irish Academy. Fittingly, the theme of this year’s event is “Young People and HIV,” and the speakers will bring a unique perspective to the evening.

This year is the twelfth year of the Father Michael Kelly lecture series, highlighting how long the fight against HIV has been a priority for Ireland. Father Michael has lived and worked in Zambia for over 50 years where he is now a citizen. He is an internationally-acclaimed speaker and advocate on HIV and AIDS, and has worked tirelessly to educate and promote safe behaviour among youth and those most at risk. Father Michael was honoured by the Minister of State at the Department of Foreign and Trade for his work on HIV and AIDS, and received the Presidential Distinguished Service Award for the Irish Abroad in 2012.

Dr Chewe Luo from Zambia will also speak at the event and provide an insight into how the world is working to prevent and treat HIV in children and adolescents. Dr Luo was appointed Associate Director, Programme Division, and Chief of the HIV/AIDS Section of UNICEF, in April 2016. An experienced paediatrician and tropical child health specialist, she has worked for 20 years in the fight against HIV and brings a unique insight to the discussion.

Minister of State for the Diaspora and International Development, Ciarán Cannon T.D., will speak on how Ireland is helping to respond to the HIV epidemic, and the work that Irish Aid is carrying out in partner countries in Africa and globally.

Ireland has long prioritised health and HIV/AIDS in its international development efforts towards poverty reduction and human development. Irish Aid spending on health and HIV/AIDS exceeds €80 million annually, with over half of this support provided through partner country programmes in 2015. Ireland’s largest health and HIV programmes are located in key partner countries including Mozambique, Tanzania, Uganda, Ethiopia and Sierra Leone and in fragile states including Zimbabwe and Liberia.


The Father Michael Kelly lecture on HIV will take place from 5.30 – 7.30pm on Tuesday 28th November 2017 in the Royal Irish Academy, and is co-hosted by the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade and the Irish Forum for Global Health.