Ireland is considered a low-incidence (rate of new infections) and low-prevelance (number living with HIV) country. However most people in Ireland would be surprised to hear that we have about 10 new HIV diagnoses in Ireland every week. This rate has increased significantly over the past three years.

For more information on HIV incidence and prevalence in Ireland click here. The only way to find out if you are living with HIV is to receive a HIV test. For more information on HIV testing in Ireland including your nearest clinic check out the testing map at HIV Services Ireland. 

Medication in Ireland for HIV is free however as a patient in Ireland you are part of a broader and somewhat complex health system. For more information on this click here. For more on the basics of HIV check out this excellent summary

Our care work involves staff or volunteers meeting with clients in a variety of settings. It may be their home, it may be a local café or clinic. The best way to describe our work is in terms of the sort of relationship we seek to develop with our clients. Time is dedicated to building trust and together we identify ways in which we can support the client in terms of how HIV has impacted their lives. Sometimes this can be a practical need but often it involves the need for emotional support to address issues of isolation, stigmatisation and difficult personal relationships. Through all of this we are looking to empower our clients to improve their health.

We do not describe our work as “outreach” as we feel this fails to honour the mutuality of the relationships we seek to establish. While we are delighted to call our clients “friends” and we hope they would consider us the same, it would be inaccurate to describe our work as a befriending service. Our office is primarily used for administration purposes. Our work is not building-based but takes place in the community. While we receive referrals from and seek to compliment the work of medical social workers, we do not adhere to a social work model. While our Respite Project does offer some opportunities for clients to engage with others, our care work does not operate support groups.

Examples of the practical outworking of our care work can be read here and our Instagram series of liminal spaces gives further “bite sized” insights into some of the realities we and our clients face together. 

This is a question we love to answer as in answering it we get the opportunity to tell a lot about the nature of our work. The answer is that there is no simple answer! Most people who ask this question come from a place where there is an assumed stability about the structure of families. Yet the nature of HIV, stigma, polydrug use and socio-economic disadvantage is such that its impact stretches across family structures and through generations, often bringing us into spaces and places that were unexpected when we first took up a referral. It is rarely as simple as defining a “family” in terms of parents, children and a household.

Our work brings us into contact with uncles, aunts, grandparents, partners, cousins, half-siblings and more, in which identity and surnames can fluctuate and the value we give to all remains consistent. In saying all this we currently work with about 50 “family-units” each of which may involve anywhere from one to eight people. Some of these “families” are what we describe as low-dependency – their need for support is low. Other families are high-dependency – their need for support is significant and we would be engaging with them on a weekly basis. We use tools such as genograms to build an understanding of the stories of those we work with so as to develop and apply effective care plans.

ACET is funded through statutory grants, foundations & trusts and individual, church & corporate donations. We value, not just transparency, but the deepening of the relationships with our funders and potential funders. Our hope is that the values we hold in our project work of mutuality and trust would also be evident with those who fund our work.

We are a Registered Charity (No. 20027810 & CHY 10732) and a Company limited by Guarantee (No. 216398). Therefore we are legally obliged to submit our Annual Accounts to the Companies Registration Office. These can be accessed here.

We have implemented the Code of Governance and we have signed up to the Statement of Guiding Principles for Fundraising. Funders include: Dublin North Inner City Drugs and Alcohol Task Force; MAC AIDS Fund; HSE – Respite Care Grant Scheme; Tusla, the Child and Family Agency; the Community Foundation for Ireland; the Women’s Fund; the PA Foundation; Ormond Quay and Scots Presbyterian Endowments; St. Patrick’s Cathedral Community Grants; CDYSB; CYC/Crosscare; Dublin City Council; Price Waterhouse Coopers; Ouzell Galley Society;  Third Space and a range of individual and local-church donors.

For a number of reasons we very rarely deliver direct education sessions in schools or youth clubs. These reasons include the fact that we long to see capacity built among those teachers and youth workers in their own delivery of sexual health education. While outside speakers can play an important role in complementing the work of teachers and youth workers, they can also be used as a substitute on what might be considered a taboo subject. When a speaker is used in sexual health education it is important to consider the question which speaks more powerfully: the message of an outside expert or the silence of the incumbent teacher? We believe the latter is underestimated.

We understand that there are a range of pressures on youth workers and teachers and upskilling in such a sensitive and complex area is no easy and straightforward task. If you have any questions on how we might support you in this area then please do not hesitate to contact us.

Yes we are a faith-based organisation in the Christian tradition. 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 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.

In addition, for many of our employed and volunteer posts there is a genuine, legitimate and justified occupational requirement that the post holder holds to a religious belief consistent with that of the ACET ethos.

Our dedication to reduce harm, subvert assumptions of privilege and power, maintain a non-judgmental posture, speak the truth in love, 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.

If you want to know more about this then please get in touch with us. We would love to talk about it. How our faith impacts our work is something we are passionate about. It has informed hours of prayer and discussion, Master’s theses and years of work.

AIDS Care Education & Training Ireland