Projects Updates

Where can I test for HIV?


Where can I test for HIV?

Head over to the Free HIV & STI Testing Locator Map from our friends at HIV Ireland.

All these testing sites across the island of Ireland offer free and confidential testing. Some require an appointment to be made, some are walk-in. Most offer rapid testing with immediate results.

If you are living with HIV this test can lead you to the life-saving treatment which means you cannot pass it on. Across Ireland in our towns, villages, cities, colleges, workplace, places of worship, sports clubs and more, there are people living with HIV. They are living healthy lives yet still often experience much of the stigma associated with the virus. Contact us to see how we can work together to overcome this stigma.

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New Dates: Parent/Teen Communication Course

10.00 am – 4.00 pm

Saturday 8 June  and Saturday 22nd June

Praise Tabernacle Church, Portland Row, Dublin 1

ACET, in partnership with Praise Tabernacle Church, are bringing their Open College Network accredited course to the North East Inner City.

Attendance at the two full Saturdays with brief, integrated assignments will lead to an OCN Level 2 (comparable to QQI Level 5/6) Certificate.

Topics covered in an interactive setting with experienced facilitators include Understanding Teenage Development, Listening Skills, Conflict Resolution, Talking to Teenages about Sex and Relationships.

This course is for parents of teenagers and younger children, youth workers, children’s workers and community workers.

Cost: €40

To book; dublin@acet.ie

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Mind the Gap – Report Launch

We were delighted to welcome a wonderful group of HIV activists, social workers, medical professionals, faith leaders, surveillance specialists, community workers and many more to the launch of Mind the Gap – our report on the low uptake of HIV testing among Black African people in Ireland.

Ifedinma Dimbo presented the findings which explored the role of the HIV=death narrative in the memories of black-African people in Ireland. She also explained the ways in which those we interviewed perceive illness and the cultural barriers at work when assuming health checks are embraced in the same way by all people. Ifedinma also highlighted the powerful impact of stigma and how it plays out through secrecy and privacy in black African communities.

ACET CEO, Richard Carson explained how the findings impact ACET’s own project on awareness and testing with faith communities and then led a discussion on integration in Ireland which challenged those present to de-centre the White-Irish assumptions which shape so much of the work in this area.

To download and read the report click below or email us at dublin@acet.ie to receive a hard copy in the post.

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Rapid HIV Testing – Coming to you


1st December is World AIDS Day and the global theme is “Know your Status.” A finger-prick 60 second test is all it takes if you are unsure of your HIV status. Head over to this Testing Locator by our friends HIV Ireland to find your nearest venue.

ACET Ireland is launching a new HIV awareness and testing initiative for faith communities on World AIDS Day, Saturday 1st December. This is a day when we remember the many millions who have died in the global pandemic and recognise our role in responding to the current challenges. With over 1,000 people living with HIV in Ireland undiagnosed and rates of late diagnosis among the highest in Western Europe it is vital that HIV testing is brought to where people are at.

ACET’s project involves free, confidential and rapid HIV tests being offered to faith communities around the country. However barriers to testing are not merely understood in terms of access or availability. They are also about the complexities of culture, expectation, place, secrecy and much more. For Christians our faith in Jesus must interact with all these realities. These are issues ACET are eager to get stuck into as part of our work supporting local churches. With highly trained staff our workshops, discussions and supports do more than just offer a test, they encourage congregations and their leaders to engage with the challenges of integration, of diversity and of mission. 

HIV treatment is now so effective that if a person is adhering to their medicine and have what is called an ‘undetectable load’ of the virus (as is the case for almost all who adhere) then sexual transmission to another person is impossible. This is called U=U,  Undetectable = Untransmittable,  and is changing the story of HIV. The UK has seen a 28% decrease in HIV diagnoses over the past two years in part as a result of the impact of treatment as prevention. Ireland is still yet to turn this corner. Testing, therefore, plays a vital role.

“We are bringing rapid HIV testing but we are bringing much more than that. New realities of the impact of HIV treatment completely transforms people’s perspective of the story of the virus.” said ACET CEO, Richard Carson. “Most of our work is with migrant-led and multicultural churches. We must engage our testing with deeper discussions on what integration means so that we can truly listen well to one another,” stated ACET Researcher Ifedinma Dimbo whose work on migrants’ interactions with the Irish health service shows startling gaps and opportunities for improvement

For more information on this project contact ACET at dublin@acet.ie

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Lives Without Fear

We all want the best for our families and communities. Unfortunately, drug intimidation is a large part of life in many areas of Dublin, including the North Inner City.

“Lives Without Fear – What can work?” is a locally focused Drug Related Intimidation Conference, hosted by the NICDATF and NEIC PIB (North East Inner City Programme Implementation Board).

Monday 18th June 2018 from 9:00am to 1:30pm in the Ash Suite, Croke Park. Conference is free, but booking is essential.
If you are interested in going, please let us know and we can send you a registration form.

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2017 Annual Report

Every spring as we approach our AGM, we take time to look back on the last year. CEO Richard Carson opens the 2017 report with these words:

On the noticeboard in our office there is a short list of reminders. Staff, when at their most mindful, take a moment to read them while coming from or going to our community activities. One simply states “Beginning, Middle, End, Rest.” It is a reminder of how to process one’s task of being present to the people we seek to support.

This Annual Report is a moment of ‘Rest’ – a chance to take stock of how 2017 went for the ACET Team. It is full of stories of new Beginnings, of being present in the Middle, of embracing End realities and of insisting that Rest is not a means to an efficient end but part of the impactful work itself.

We look back at the Education projects, the Care work – including the story of one family – and Matilda Project in Zimbabwe plus a snapshot of our financial accounts, with thanks to our funders, supporters and all those we work alongside.

Read the 2017 annual report here.

You can always click onto our 2017 report on our ‘Contact Us’ page, along with previous annual reports and newsletters.

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Barriers to HIV testing for migrants in Ireland

Ifedinma Dimbo has stepped off our Board of Trustees to join our staff team as a researcher.

Ifedinma in Barcelona.

Ifedinma will be asking the question “How can we overcome barriers to HIV testing for African migrants in Ireland?” Drawing from her expertise as a PhD candidate in UCC and her work on migrant experiences of our health system, Ifedinma is looking forward to getting stuck into the challenges of the research.

She hit the ground running when gaining a place on the M-Care project of the European AIDS Treatment Group which draws 20 activists and practitioners on HIV and migrants from across the continent for shared learning. Her first session with M-Care was in Barcelona in March; she will be in Frankfurt in May and in Warsaw in July.

M-Care group at their first session in Barcelona.

 

 

 

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Quilt Group: Here and Now, after 25 Years

The quilt group is now in its 25th year. Some of the members are from the original core group — a testimony to the fact that this gathering continues to be relevant in today’s society.

It started in an effort to immortalise those who had been lost to HIV-related illness in the Rialto Crumlin area. As this was very challenging, the group also took time to address hope issues.

New Projects:

Recently the group created some cushions from items, such as a beloved jacket, belonging to those whom were lost. Again, making these was very emotional but we felt that it was a healing project to be involved in.

Presently we are producing a quilt with all the names of those who have died, a fitting memorial to celebrate 25 years.

The journey we undertook 25 years ago was not a certain one, but as it evolved it became clear that this group formed part of bereavement support for families in this area. We will continue to work making quilts as long as it is necessary and supportive to those who grieve.

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U = U

Health News: In 2017, leading global health bodies confirmed that when it comes to HIV, Undetectable = Untransmittable (U=U).

This means that if a person has an undetectable viral load (linked to adherence to their medication) then sexual transmission of HIV is impossible, even if a condom is not used.

In education and training sessions, the enormity of U=U is starting to hit home. How we communicate risk and perceived risk to a group has radically changed. Those living with HIV are no longer, necessarily, the focus of attention. When it comes to transmission risk our energies have shifted to those who are unaware of their status as opposed to those who are aware and taking control of their health. This redefining and refocussing is exciting and opens up a new chapter in approaching the end of the pandemic.

Yet, I have been reflecting on why it takes a medical advance and the concrete realities of transmission for us to be enthused in affirming the positive status of those living with HIV in our midst. In the Bible it says that “faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.” People living with HIV have always carried a dignity and identity as image bearers of God. Treatment advances do not necessitate that truth from being real.  It was always there and it has always called us to live in resistance to the stigma that so many encounter.

 

Image: Prevention Access Campaign

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The new face of care work

Recently, referrals for care support have become more culturally dynamic and diverse.

While migrant clients represent a small percentage of ACETs overall client group, working with HIV and health management is layered with many complexities. ACET’s care team acknowledge the additional nuances associated with a migration story:

  • language barriers
  • cultural differences
  • limited knowledge of local community and social structures.

While medication adherence and clinic attendance tend to be consistent, migrant clients often discuss negative experiences and fears of disclosure, stigma, racism and segregation from their local community.

Unique challenges

Clients who are undocumented or living in direct provision experience further challenges associated with marginalisation and lack of education and employment opportunities. This is often combined with a concern about accepting support from external organisations and becoming identifiable and risking deportation. Finding appropriate working spaces for care support can be challenging when clients are living in direct provision centers or overcrowded homes on the outskirts of communities. Often clients are unable to travel as a result of limited finances and lack of childcare, further isolating them from necessary supports.

ACET sometimes only support

While some clients have made positive steps towards education, work and integration and have opportunities associated with being granted leave to remain or citizenship, others continue to face significant barriers associated with their undocumented status. The care team, sometimes the only support, continue to develop their understanding of the impact of the migration process and sensitively engage with clients on care plans which are reflective of ever-changing circumstances and support needs.

 

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