The numbers of those testing positive for HIV is rising. The Dublin AIDS Alliance urges people not to be complacent about contracting a disease that is preventable.

More than 3,700 people in Ireland are known to HIV (Human Immunodeficiency Virus) positive. Open Heart House is a Dublin support centre for people who are living with HIV which opened seven years ago with eighteen members. Now there are four hundred and fifty. On average 6 new people contact them for support each week. 

In spite of the fact that HIV and AIDS (Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome) have been with us since the 1980s, the public impression is that the virus is contracted mostly by homosexuals or drug users. 

'Carliosa' (not her real name) who spoke to RTÉ News contracted HIV heterosexually four years ago. She attends St James’s Hospital and is saddened when she sees younger women waiting to be tested in the HIV Clinic there, 

It doesn’t have to be that way.

Open Heart House does not have a sign on its door, and promises complete confidentiality to everyone who contacts them. The stigma surrounding HIV is still there, says their CEO (Chief Executive Officer) Paula Gilmore, 

Several of our members have told less than three people about their diagnosis.

On Irish AIDS Day the Dublin AIDS Alliance (DAA) marched through the city centre to raise awareness of HIV and sexually transmitted infections (STIs). 

They are particularly concerned about young people, as three-quarters of all cases of STIs were reported among those under 30, which could signal an increase in future cases of HIV. According to Ann Nolan, Executive Director of the Dublin AIDS Alliance, three hundred and fifty six people tested positive for HIV last year, 

That’s a lot of people testing positive for an illness that is preventable.

The DAA wants the government to put sexual health on the political agenda, and to make condoms more available. ‘Carliosa’s’ message is be more aware, 

Everybody out there is at risk. 

An RTÉ News report broadcast on 15 June 2005. The reporter is Mary Calpin.