In the lead up to the World AIDS Day, the Sexual Health Centre Cork has launched a report on the Lived Experience of HIV-positive Young People. The report explores the realities of living with HIV in Ireland, associated stigma and its impact on the mental and physical health of the people affected by it, as well the significance of the support services and peer-to-peer programmes.

At the core of the report lies a qualitative study based on the interviews conducted by Aoife Burke with HIV-positive young adults who avail of the support services at the Sexual Health Centre. The age of the participants ranges between 28 and 33, with the representation of both male and female experiences.

The report is the first of its kind to be launched in Ireland and explores the experiences of previously underrepresented demographic.

Ms. Aoife Burke, the researcher at the Sexual Health Centre and the author of the report, said, “Almost half of new HIV diagnoses in Ireland in 2016 were in people under the age of 35. It makes it even more surprising that the lived experiences and the impact of stigma in this demographic has never been explored before. By bridging the gap in the existing knowledge in regards to HIV, the results of this study can help bring us one step closer to open dialogue and accepting and addressing the existing issues.”

The study identified three prevailing themes that include the psychological impact of HIV diagnosis, the culture of HIV-related stigma and the associated lack of knowledge and the significance of support services.

Dr. Martin Davoren, Executive Director of Sexual Health Centre, Cork said, “According to our recently published research, HIV positive young adults report feelings of isolation, suicidal ideation and enacted stigma in both social and clinical settings. Participants also reported that a lack of knowledge reinforces existing stigma and has a strong negative impact on their lives as well as the lives of their families. The Sexual Health Centre continues to provide one-to-one counselling for people living with and affected by HIV as well as facilitating a support group and peer-to-peer programmes. These services are critical in supporting the community.”

The report’s findings were presented by Ms. Burke at the launch of the PhotoVoice HIV exhibition on November 28th as part of World AIDS Day campaign launched by the Sexual Health Centre that culminate in the World AIDS Day run on December 1st, 2018.

The report is available online on the Sexual Health Centre’s website:


About The Sexual Health Centre

The Sexual Health Centre is a Not for Profit, Non-Governmental Organisation (NGO) that was established in July 1987 as Cork AIDS Alliance. In addition to providing up-to-date and non-biased  information and education regarding sexual health and wellbeing, the Centre offers professional one-on-one counselling sessions and support groups for people living with HIV, rapid HIV testing, crisis pregnancy support and free pregnancy tests, sexual health promotion stands, educational workshops, and events in the third-level educational institutions, free condom distribution, 9-5 Monday to Friday Helpline, outreach work and sexual health workshops for a variety of vulnerable groups, and an out-of-hours STI clinic.


Media Contact

Nadia Reckmann