New campaign aims to tackle the stigma around HIV

by Dublin Gazette
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A new ad campaign has been launched on video advertising screens around Dublin in an effort to help to tackle the stigma around HIV.

The campaign is a collaboration between HIV activist group ACT UP Dublin and website MASC., and features people in Ireland who are living with HIV sharing messages about the prevention and health benefits of treatment.

Using the phrase “Undetectable = Untransmittable”, often shortened to “U=U” or #UequalsU, the Dublin campaign is part of an international effort to promote awareness of the fact that effective HIV treatment is also effective HIV prevention. 

When someone is on effective treatment for HIV their “viral load” —the amount of virus in their blood—gets very low, sometimes referred to as “undetectable”.

The launch of the campaign comes on the heels of the publication of the results of the PARTNER 2 study, which confirmed results of previous studies, saying there is no risk of sexual transmission of HIV with an undetectable viral load and concluded: “Our findings support the message of the U=U (undetectable equals untransmittable) campaign, and the benefits of early testing and treatment for HIV.”

Eithne MacSweeney from Micromedia, the advertising company running the advertisements, said: “We are very excited to be working with ACT UP Dublin on the ‘Undetectable = Untransmittable’ campaign. In using our public platform, we hope to assist ACT UP in sharing scientific facts and removing the stigma surrounding HIV today. 

“It’s very rewarding to be able to use our screen network to help circulate this incredibly important information and create a shift in the language and imagery we use around HIV, its treatment and those living with it.”

Quotes from ACT UP Dublin members Tonie Walsh and Robbie Lawlor in the ads highlight the personal impact of U=U, and the positive, bright colour scheme aims to challenge gloomy and outdated ideas about living with HIV. 

The ads will run over the next four weeks at a variety of locations in Dublin and Cork including gyms, bars, and key on-street screens. 

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