Wednesday, 27 February 2019
An tOrd Gnó - Order of Business
We know that 2018 was a record year in terms of HIV transmissions in Ireland. New figures show that not only are we failing to combat HIV effectively but are actually going in the opposite direction to our European counterparts. Many of our European counterparts have the same health resources but have implemented and prioritised proactive health policies in this area. Many have invested in PrEP and PEP distribution and accessible testing but we have not done so. It should also be noted that it costs the State more than €400,000 to treat a person with HIV over his or her lifetime. This is money that could and should be spent on improving our health response to HIV.
An effective measure that could be implemented and would cost absolutely nothing is a renewed and inclusive sex education curriculum. At present, HIV prevention is regularly excluded from lessons in the context of men who have sex with men. We are not equipping our young people with the measures to fully navigate their sex lives in a safe and positive manner. Indeed, 24% of respondents in a HIV Ireland survey thought that HIV could be passed on through kissing or by sitting on a toilet seat which shows that misconceptions are increasing among young people. Something needs to give or to change in this regard.
The Oireachtas Joint Committee on Education and Skills published its report on sex education which will inform the review by the National Council for Curriculum and Assessment, NCCA, of relationships and sexuality education provision. I support the recommendations in that report which are very ambitious and I commend Senators Gavan and Ruane who played a very active role on that committee. I ask the Leader to invite the Minister for Education and Skills to the House to discuss the report and provide an update on NCCA review.