On March 18, GCN and ACT UP Dublin will present a special edition of In & Out, #OpenGMHSNow, marking a full year without Dublin’s Gay Men’s Health Service. Hosted by Rory O’Neill, the conversation will include an update on the service’s ongoing closure and how the community is responding; first-hand reports of how the service’s absence has impacted the community; a look back at the history of the GMHS and its contribution to the LGBTQ+ community; and a discussion of what the GMHS might look like in the future.
In December last year, the Minister of State at the Department of Health, Frankie Feighan, said that staff are working towards a phased reopening of the GMHS in the New Year.
The news that the GHMS planned to reopen followed an open letter by Irish LGBTQ+ community leaders calling for the reopening of the GMHS and a call by Gay Health Network (GHN) in October where they expressed deep concern about the continued closure of the GMHS and its impact on the GBMSM community in Ireland.
Now three months into 2021, the Government has yet to announce their plan for the phased reopening.
— ACT UP Dublin (@ActUpDublin) February 2, 2021
In a petition that was launched last year calling for the reopening, the implications of the now one year closure were outlined:
“The GMHS was closed in March 2020 and staff were redeployed to COVID-19 test centres. Most other public sexual health services also closed as staff were redeployed to the COVID-19 response, but have since reopened with some restrictions or reduced capacity. PrEP services at GMHS remained open until recently. Existing patients had been temporarily signposted to access PrEP at other clinics but are now being seen at the GUIDE clinic at St James’.
“In 2019, almost 12,000 people availed of the services available at GMHS. The clinic was the busiest PrEP service in the country, with around 1000 people accessing the medication through the service.
“Provisional data for this year shows that despite a significant reduction in testing, the number of newly diagnosed HIV and STIs cases is only slightly lower than in 2019.
“gbMSM continue to be disproportionately affected by HIV and STIs, accounting for more than half of all new HIV notifications and higher rates of STI notifications. Any further delay in the reintroduction of the service will almost certainly lead to an increase in cases.”
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