The Sexual Health Centre celebrates its 25th year of providing support to people living with HIV and actively working to prevent HIV. Advances in treatment and testing now make it imperative that people test for HIV if they have had unsafe sex.
Recent advances in treatment and testing now mean that people have better chances of coping with HIV if they test positive and they can usually live long and healthy lives. A diagnosis of HIV no longer means people will necessarily proceed to AIDS, or sadly for those we have lost, to death. “You would not believe the difference we see in people with HIV now” says Deirdre Seery, CEO of The Sexual Health Centre. “Even some people who were becoming ill before the treatments became available have had their lives transformed. That is why it is really important that if people feel they have had unsafe sex, that they take a HIV test”.

There is a new Rapid HIV Test where the results are available in less than 30 minutes. This is now available from The Sexual Health Centre in Cork and we are offering the test free of charge on Tuesday 4th December to promote World AIDS Day”.

“When we see the relief that people feel after they have taken a HIV test, we know that this is a worthwhile service”.
There have been 157 people newly diagnosed in the first six months of this year. There were 72 men who have sex with men (who do not always see themselves as gay) and 54 heterosexuals. “It is almost one new person a day, and that is for a virus that is preventable. We also know that if people have HIV and are on treatment, they are less likely to pass the virus on to others. So it is a win win situation”.
One reason why people have not tested before is because people were afraid to test and there is still a stigma attached to HIV. “Now we are saying, if you are concerned, a simple finger prick test can tell you whether or not you have HIV”. The service at The Sexual Health Centre involves a pre- test discussion about the risks taken. The results are available in less than 30 minutes. If the test is positive, a fully qualified counsellor is on hand to talk to the person and give re-assurance that HIV is now a manageable virus. While there is a small fee for the test, if the results are positive, the on-going counselling is free.
The Sexual Health Centre has a support group for people with HIV and also offers counselling and support to partners or other family members of people living with HIV. It is also possible to meet with other people living with HIV for support. “Over the past 25 years of working with HIV, this is a good news story”, says Deirdre Seery. “We now have treatments and easy access to testing. Our message is “get peace of mind, get tested”.
Other services at The Sexual Health Centre are free counselling for people with unplanned pregnancies, free drop-in advice and condoms, sex education in schools and telephone helpline support for anyone worried about their sexual health.
Also we know that people have more risky sex when they are drunk. With the Christmas time approaching, we are launching our BeSexyStayHealthy Campaign. Check out our website for further information.