24 June 1999 Edition

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AIDS awareness plea

At least 1,000 children and as many as 3,000 people in general are affected by HIV/AIDS, according to a new report launched by Cairde, the main support agency for people affected by HIV/AIDS.

The report, titled No Room for Complacency, which was funded by the Eastern Health Board and The Combat Poverty Agency, finds that the vast majority of those surveyed, 81%, were dependent on social welfare. According to Paddy Connolly, director of Cairde, ``this means that children and families affected are not only disadvantaged by a HIV diagnosis but also by a lack of adequate standard of living''.

Sinn Fein Caoimhghin O Caolain attended the report's launch. He said: ``I was very glad to attend this launch to give support to call for greater awareness of the extent and the nature of HIV among families and communities and the need for a more integrated government approach... little is been done to create awareness and combat prejudice against those with HIV. Most are already disadvantaged as they come from marginalised communities. A renewed effort to support all those affected by HIV is now essential.''

Cairde is calling for an integrated approach by government departments, particularly the Department of Social, Community and Family Affairs and the Department of Health, to the needs of families affected. Paddy Connolly said: ``It seems incredible that almost 20 years into the existence of HIV/AIDS in Ireland, the illness is still viewed with such ignorance and children and families not only have to cope with living with a terminal illness but also with the prejudice and indifference of society.''

An Phoblacht
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