In 1992, on a budget of IR£378 and with an answering machine in a back bedroom, ACET (AIDS Care Education & Training) Ireland was founded. Since then, hundreds of people affected by HIV have received practical and emotional support and tens of thousands have been educated on HIV-related issues or trained to be better professionals in their response to the virus. We began in an era when, for many, AIDS was a death sentence. It was the end of the beginning of the story of one of the most significant pandemics ever to affect the world.
While globally new infections are reducing and the number of those accessing treatment is increasing, still enormous challenges remain. Ireland is a low-prevalence country yet the rate of new HIV diagnoses remains at about one per day with a significant increase in 2014. While much great work has been done in addressing HIV-related stigma, many still live in such a way that their HIV-status unnecessarily defines their relationships at home, in work, in their places of worship or in accessing other health services.
Our calling brings us to the margins of Irish society, breaking down barriers of fear to deliver projects that seek to change individuals, families and communities for the better. We believe that such change can only come about through relationships deeply rooted in mutuality and equality. This approach is informed by our Christian commitment which lies at the heart of everything we do. Our dedication to speak the truth in love, reduce harm, subvert assumptions of privilege and power, maintain a non-judgmental posture, celebrate transformation and establish mutuality are as a result of being a faith-based organisation rather than in spite of it. We find that these values are consistent with the Christ who took on the nature of a servant to those that were excluded and ignored.
ACET Ireland is a member of The Wheel and the Irish Sexual Health and HIV Network. We have adopted the Code of Governance and the implemented the Principles of Fundraising. We use the policy framework of the Quality in Alcohol Drugs Services – the national quality standards for addiction services in Ireland. We are part of the ACET International Alliance comprising agencies in 23 countries responding to HIV & AIDS in their local settings.