At a protest today, the LGBT rights organisation, ACT UP Dublin is calling for a renewed effort to address the expanding HIV epidemic in Ireland.
On the eve of World AIDS Day, ACT UP Dublin is brandishing an alarm clock outside the Department of Health at Hawkin’s House to “wake Ireland’s dormant institutions to the need for action on HIV prevention”.
“Its alarm bells are going off because we want to say the government and the HIV institutions in Ireland have to wake up,” says Robbie Lawlor of ACT UP Dublin. “Last year alone we had 485 new diagnoses and 51% of them were among men who have sex with men (MSM). We know from figures this year that there’s an increase on that again. HIV is a political crisis because of the inaction that’s happening.”
In the main ACT UP are calling on the government not to delay in making Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis (PrEP), commonly known as the drug Truvada, available in Ireland.
“We have the tools to stop HIV infections, and one of the main ones is PrEP, a HIV drug that if taken by HIV negative people every day is shown to have just a little under 100% rate of preventing the passing on HIV,” says Lawlor. “It’s a drug that should be available in Ireland for our community, but at the moment it’s not. We’re putting pressure on the government to say we need PrEP now.”
The organisation are also calling for LGBT sex education in Irish schools, which according to Lawlor is “completely lacking” and for more funding for the Rapid HIV Testing programme, whereby people can be tested in places frequented by the LGBT community and get instant results.
ACT UP Dublin is a local chapter of ACT UP, The Aids Coalition to Unleash Power, an international HIV activist organisation. Today’s action is a call-out to the LGBT community to get involved in tackling the crisis.
“All the great LGBT movements have been when we all come together under a common cause, saying we need to face these issues, face these inequalities together,” says Lawlor. “ACT UP want to push the message out to the LGBT community that HIV is rapidly becoming one of the biggest issues in our community, and we need everyone to lend their voices to this cause.”
If you are affected by any of the issues raised in this piece, contact:
Gay Switchboard Ireland (01) 872 1055
LGBT Helpline 1890 929 539