ACT UP Dublin Visit Simon Harris' Office To Arrange Meeting

ACT Up have been promised a meeting with the Minister for Health Simon Harris several times only to be ignored everytime a request is made in writing so they took a trip to Hawkins House to make the appointment in person.

ACT UP outside the Department of Health

ACT UP Dublin have visited Hawkins House to take Simon Harris up on his offer of a meeting.

The Minister for Health made several commitments to Will St Leger of ACT UP Dublin saying he will meet with him to discuss Ireland’s HIV crisis.

“Three weeks ago I met with Simon Harris and he gave me a personal commitment that he would meet with us.”, St Leger said.

He countinued: “we hadn’t even got an acknowledgement back from his office. I had to make two phone calls before we actually got an acknowledgement back.”

After weeks of waiting for confirmation of a meeting, ACT UP decided to try and arrange the meeting in person.

In a Facebook live video, Will outlined the timeframe and the situation around HIV in Ireland.

“ACT UP has been going for two years in Ireland. We have been trying to wake this country up about the (HIV) crisis in Ireland.

“Every 18 hours there is a new diagnosis of HIV in Ireland, that’s 10 a week, 500+ a year.”

Taking last week (July 3-10) as an example, Will reported on Twitter that there were “13 newly reported HIV diagnoses in Ireland this week, 12 men and 1 woman. 9 of those diagnosed were aged between 35-59 years old.

In June, Simon Harris publically acknowledged the HIV crisis in Ireland for the first time since taking office as Minister for Health.

In a tweet in which he was replying to a Twitter user who was asking about the roll-out of accessible PrEP, Harris said,

“Fair and important point. Working hard on this. Plan is to roll out PrEP programme from start of 2019. Will post updates here. Will get this done”

Speaking about this promise by Harris of a roll-out of accessible PrEP in 2019, Will said:

“In order for that to happen, it needs significant funding, it needs to have community engagement, and that’s why we’re here today.

“We want to engage with Simon and see the programme and the plan that they have for the roll-out of PrEP because the community needs to be involved in that roll-out.”

ACT UP also staged a protest this morning outside the Four Courts “to let Gilead Science know that it’s time to stop blocking PrEP in Europe.”

As Gilead is currently in court trying to remain the only manufacturers of PrEP, other pharmaceutical companies are not able to market generic versions of PrEP in Ireland, which would have a much lower cost to the consumer.

Minister Harris was otherwise engaged this morning and a member of his team came to reception to tell the members of ACT UP to resend a meeting request.

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