Sinn Féin Senator Fintan Warfield has called on the HSE to reopen the Gay Men’s Health Service immediately.
Speaking in the Seanad on World AIDS Day, Senator Warfield demanded that the service be reopened as soon as possible. He was responding to an update from Junior Minister Frank Feighan on the issue.
Senator Fintan Warfield said:
“According to HIV Ireland, men who have sex with men are the group most affected by HIV in Ireland, accounting for 56% of diagnoses in 2018. Yet the Gay Men’s Health Service is the only sexual health service in the country that has not reopened.
“The need for the service is evident and the distress and anxiety caused by its continued closure is unacceptable.
“Minister Feighan assured me that a plan is in place to reassign staff back to the GMHS but this relies on a successful recruitment campaign to other areas of the HSE under pressure due to Covid-19.
“I reminded him that many services within the health system are already waiting on promised allocation pending a recruitment drive.
“As of today, there are already 728 consultants yet to be appointed to positions. But the Minister says the recruitment process is underway.
“Promises relating to recruitment will not make up for the lack of service available to gay men.
“I am disappointed that Minister Feighan could not provide a date for the reopening. I will pursue the matter further with the HSE in order to get a timeframe for reopening.
“The continued closure of the Gay Men’s Health Service will have an impact on HIV and STI transmission rates and this will disproportionally affect gay and bisexual men.”