Gay Health Action are providing an information service about HIV and AIDS.
In the absence of a public health campaign about HIV and AIDS, Gay Health Action have set up an information service for the gay community in Ireland.
For the past two years Gay Health Action (GHA) has informed the gay community about safe sexual practices. As a result, the gay community in Ireland is quite well-informed about AIDS (Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome) says Donal Sheehan,
The spread of the virus in the gay population has been clearly controlled at the moment.
The organisation is staffed by volunteers and is funded entirely by donations as at present it does not receive any state funding. Despite Gay Health Action engagement with government and requests for resources to be allocated to them they do not receive state funding. Praise has come from the Department of Health at the highest level but as Ray Gaston explains,
They haven't been willing to discuss with us the possibility of giving us funding.
Taking a HIV test is something a person can only decide about by themselves, Donal Sheehan says, as many issues can arise from it. Safe sex should be a priority for everyone.
For example, insurance companies may decline to provide life assurance to someone who has been tested for HIV which in turn might make them ineligible for a mortgage. A positive HIV test result can also cause such high levels of stress and upset for an individual that they develop other medical problems, so
We think people should make up their own minds on what's best for them.
Effective public health and AIDS prevention campaigns should be based on good data, maintains Donal Sheehan, but that will not exist if discrimination surrounds it.
Anonymous testing for HIV already exists in the United States and Britain, and there is no reason why a similar programme can not be put in place here, as it would encourage people to take the test,
We feel it's time the government here did it.
This report for 'Evening Extra' was broadcast on 3 April 1987. The reporter is Patricia Murphy.
'Evening Extra' was a nightly magazine programme which ran from Monday to Friday at 7 pm dealing with current issues and people in the news. The first episode was aired on Monday 13 October 1986 and it ran for 278 shows over 2 years until the final show on 29 April 1988. The programme had numerous presenters and reporters including Siobhan Cleary, Richard Crowley, Bibi Baskin, Aonghus McAnally and Shay Healy [link].