Today, the Gay Men’s Health Service (GMHS), formerly known as the Gay Men’s Health Project, celebrates twenty-five years of serving the gay, bi and trans community of Ireland.
Founded in 1992, before Ireland decriminalised homosexuality in 1993, GMHS has been working to improve the sexual health of men who have sex with men (MSM) and the trans community.
A statement from the GMHS reveals that the service has had over 100,000 visits since it opened this day twenty-five years ago:
“The Gay Men’s Health Service (GMHS) opened its first clinic on 6th October 1992, 25 years ago today – bravely doing so 9 months before the decriminalisation of homosexuality in Ireland.
“In that time the service has facilitated over 100,000 visits from gay and bisexual men, men who have sex with men and the trans community. It remains the first and only dedicated statutory service for MSM in Ireland and boasts being one of the World’s first such services.”
GMHS Manager Siobhán O’Dea spoke about the history of GMHS from its inception through to today, saying that it has grown significantly.
Two hundred people a week now attend the service
“Over the years since it opened and in recent times, the GMHS has dramatically expanded services,” said Siobhan, indicating the organisation has plans to open up a fourth clinic later before the end of the year.
“We have a much bigger throughput – two hundred people a week now attend the service.”
Among the initiatives driving the growth were nurse-led screening, the HPV vaccine, the Hepatitis A and B vaccinations and the Monday afternoon clinic opened last year which Mr Gay Ireland 2017 attended this summer.
Plans for further growth and service provision are underway, with O’Dea striving to run GMHS clinics every day of the week.
To celebrate the service’s anniversary, GMHS co-founder Mick Quinlan, Minister Catherine Byrne, some past members of GMHS staff over the last quarter century and community members will be saying some words in the Baggot St Clinic on Thursday, October 19.
“We’re going to have an informal reception, it’s very much community-based.”
“It’s in Baggot St because that’s where the community comes for the testing, so we want to have the reception there,” said O’Dea.
From The Archive
GCN first reported on the new drop-in sexual health clinic in the November ’92 issue of GCN:
“Now, ten years after the onset of the HIV epidemic, it is being recognised that the needs of gay and bisexual men deserve special treatment,” wrote Patrick Reeves.
“Every Tuesday evening from 7.30p.m. to 9.30p.m. a drop-in clinic for gay and bisexual men only operates free of charge at the Aids Resource Centre, Haddington Road, Dublin. The clinic is designed to meet the needs of gay men around HIV and other STDs.
“The clinic is designed to meet the needs of gay men around HIV and other STDs. At the clinic HIV testing is offered with free and fast test counselling.”
The report goes on explain that the service was run “in an informal and friendly manner” much as it is today, with “tea and coffee” and a gay counsellor to greet you on arrival.
My experience of this clinic was very positive and I have no hesitation in recommending it
“My experience of this clinic was very positive and I have no hesitation in recommending a visit to it for sexually active gay and bisexual men,” Reeves wrote.My hope is that this clinic will continue and that gay men will use it to make our sex lives safer.”
“My hope is that this clinic will continue and that gay men will use it to make our sex lives safer.”
© 2017 GCN (Gay Community News). All rights reserved.