GMHS share updated plans for PrEP clinic while awaiting full reintroduction of screening and treatment service

Current PrEP users who availed of the GMHS are to have their appointments transferred to the GUIDE Clinic.

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In an update to recent news about the continued closure of the GMHS and the disruption of their services, the GMHS has announced that current PrEP users are to have their appointments transferred to the GUIDE Clinic.

The GMHS website reads, “The GMHS remains closed due to COVID restrictions. The PrEP clinic is also now closed on the GMHS site.

“Any patients currently taking PrEP will be contacted by text message and will be seen in the GUIDE Clinic in St James’s Hospital on the week of their scheduled appointment. This appointment will be at a different time and date to their original appointment and this will be explained in the text message.”

The GMHS then shared a list of available PrEP clinics around the country which can be found here.

Susan Clarke from GMHS shared, “The GMHS is an invaluable national community-delivered service, providing sexual health services for over 25 years. The COVID pandemic has seen many of our staff redeployed into COVID testing centres where there is an escalating demand for those services.

“Since March we have been operating a very reduced service to all our patients but we really wanted to maintain a service for our patients already taking PrEP.
We did this by providing a virtual clinic and organising prescriptions to be sent out to the patients. The General Phlebotomy service in St James’s kindly allowed us to use their services for HIV testing, but with so many other sexual health services under huge pressure at this time, we were unable access STI screening for them.

“More recently, as additional staff have been redeployed, we have been trying to come up with a solution in the GUIDE Clinic here in St James’s Hospital. Thanks to some great team work here in GUIDE in collaboration with the services in GMHS, and financial support from CHO 6, we have come up with a solution to maintain PrEP for our patients in a safe manner. We had our first virtual clinic last night, 6th October, and it was a great success.

“The patients were texted prior to the call, so were expecting it and thankfully almost everybody answered. We had a virtual appointment and all patients are going to come into the GUIDE Clinic this Friday morning for a full STI screen. Any STI treatments or vaccinations required will be provided here within GUIDE. We will provide a full and comprehensive service  for the GMHS PREP patients here in GUIDE as long as is required.

“As additional staff are recruited to the testing centres to cope with the huge demand of the COVID pandemic, our own staff will resume working in the GMHS, where we have a new IT system ready to go, and we will continue to deliver the service to our patients.

“As we move into a difficult phase in the management of the Covid-19 pandemic we would encourage all of our services users to keep their social circle as small as possible and to follow the HSE advice in as much as it’s possible and we’ll look forward to opening up our services as soon as we safely can do so.”

Adam Shanley of HIV Ireland and the MPOWER Programme commented, “We welcome the introduction of a PrEP clinic for current GMHS PrEP users. Ensuring PrEP users have continued access to the drug and their regular screening for other STIs is crucial to reduce new transmissions. We know Dr Clarke and colleagues at GMHS have worked really hard to set this up and it’s testament to their commitment to the gay community.

“We continue to engage with the HSE on the reintroduction of regular screening and treatment services at GMHS – a vital service which remains closed. The MPOWER outreach team remains available to refer gay, bisexual and other men who have sex with men into other clinical services for testing and treatment while the GMHS team work on reinstating services.”

As well as its PrEP service, the GMHS offered testing, treatment, vaccination and prevention services to nearly 12,000 gay and bisexual men and trans folk in 2019. The introduction of the free PrEP Programme saw hundreds of service users start on the HIV prevention drug since its launch late last year.

The MPOWER outreach team are available to offer you information, support and advice on accessing PrEP and other sexual health services during this time. The MPOWER outreach team can be contacted by phone, WhatsApp, email, and on Grindr.

© 2020 GCN (Gay Community News). All rights reserved.

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