A MONUMENT honouring people who have been affected by Aids and HIV has been unveiled in Ireland.
Located in Dublin’s Phoenix Park, the ‘Embraced Loop’ installation is designed to “express solidarity with everyone, past and present, who has been affected by HIV and AIDS”, the Irish Government confirmed.
It was formally unveiled by Taoiseach Leo Varadkar, who said: “The great advances in prevention, treatment and care we have seen for HIV/AIDS over the last 20 years have helped to save millions of lives.
“In spite of this incredible progress, we can never forget the devastating effect that HIV and AIDS has had on people, families, communities and entire nations.”
He added: “This deeply moving memorial, Embraced Loop will be situated here permanently in the People’s Gardens to show the respect of our nation, that we share in the sorrow of those lost or suffering, and to remember and celebrate the lives of those we have lost.
“It also reminds us that we still need to act, and the struggle is not over.”
Tánaiste Micheál Martin was also in attendance for the unveiling event, alongside Health Minister Stephen Donnelly and Ireland’s Equality Minister Roderic O’Gorman.
“This memorial is a fitting place for people to reflect on lives lost to AIDS and the tremendous advances in treatment that have done so much to reduce the health impacts on people with HIV and AIDS,” the Tánaiste said.
“Access to that treatment remains a problem in many countries, particularly for the most vulnerable in society and particularly in Africa.”
He added: “Ireland continues to support organisations to provide access to treatment that keeps people healthy and prevents transmission.
“The world has made enormous strides in combatting the impact of HIV and AIDS. This memorial is a welcome reminder that we must continue with those efforts.”
The monument was designed by artists Anaisa Franco and Michael R. DiCarlo, whose design was selected by a judging panel for having “universal appeal”, and for its creative use of the red ribbon associated with HIV and Aids awareness.
To mark the unveiling of the monument, the Taoiseach further confirmed that Ireland will contribute €750,000 to the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria.
This is in addition to the €21million the nation has already contributed to the fund this year.
More than 100 people attended the unveiling ceremony, including Irish people directly impacted by HIV, or who have dedicated their life and work to the treatment of HIV and Aids.