6 Months Highlight of 2023
It is hard to believe that we are half way through 2023 – where has the last six months gone?
For Positive Life it has been busy as we continue working for the well-being of people affected by an HIV diagnosis in Northern Ireland, and to remove the associated stigma.
While keeping a focus on the World Health Organisation target to achieve zero HIV diagnosis by 2030 we strive towards a Northern Ireland where HIV attracts no more or less significance than any other serious long term health condition.
Until we achieve this, we’ll keep doing what we always do:
- Raise awareness of the impact of HIV to reduce stigma.
- Educate and challenge the myths that surround HIV.
- Engage with our services users and advocating to ensure they have a voice in the policy arena.
- To reduce barriers and challenging discriminatory practice.
And as we’ve been doing all this, we’ve also had some exciting highlights over the last couple of months.
Sexual Health Week 2023
Northern Ireland’s annual Sexual Health Week took place this year between 13th and 19th February.
To mark the week, we published a survey which found that 80% of MLAs agree the Department of Health should introduce a Sexual Health Action Plan while 79% believe it should include a commitment to the World Health Organisation’s target of zero new HIV diagnoses by 2030.
With our partners at Informing Choices NI we also held the Big Sexy Valentine event at Stormont sponsored by Cara Hunter MLA. This interactive discussion highlighted how people with a learning disability experience relationships, sexuality and sex.
As part of our work campaigning to remove the stigma associated with HIV in Northern Ireland, we regularly attend political party conferences to ensure that the promotion and enhancement of positive sexual health and relationships are top of the political agenda.
In March, we attended the Alliance Party Conference at the Stormont Hotel, Belfast. Where we met with local political representatives to highlight the need for reform of Relationship and Sexuality Education and a Sexual Health Action Plan that delivers on the target to achieve zero new HIV diagnoses by 2030.
During all our conversations we called for the restoration of the Assembly and Executive so our politicians can get back to work and deliver for those affected by HIV in Northern Ireland.
Strictly at the Movies
On Friday 16th June, Strictly – at the Movies returned to the Crowne Plaza Hotel to raise vital funds for our work.
My husband and I, alongside 18 other volunteer dancers busted some moves as part of a group dance and in couples too. Over 300 people attended in all their glitz and glam to cheer us all on.
The event was hosted by broadcaster Declan Harvey and long-time supporter, Alliance Party MLA for South Belfast, Kate Nicholl, was our head judge. Everyone had a fantastic night and over £30,000 was raised to fund our work across Northern Ireland.
BASHH Annual Conference 2023
In June, we also attended the British Association for Sexual Health and HIV Annual Conference in Llandudno, North Wales. It was fantastic to meet and network with likeminded individuals who are so passionate about achieving zero new HIV diagnoses by 2030 and eradicating associated stigma.
I was given the opportunity to update delegates about work in NI around HIV, the development of a Sexual Health Action Plan in Northern Ireland and how the current political stalemate is blocking the approval and implementation of progress going forward.
On behalf of Positive Life, I called for the return of the Assembly and Executive to enable the appointment of a Heath Minister to review, approve, fund and implement the draft plan. Our concerns around achieving the World Health Organisation 2030 target were also raised.
As you can see, it has been a busy few months here at Positive Life. We are thoroughly looking forward to the months ahead as plans are now underway for marking World Aids Day on 1st December – watch this space!