Campaigners are calling on the Health Service Executive, today World Aids Day, to reopen the country's only dedicated gay men's health clinic.

The Gay Men's Health Service, located at the Meath Primary Care Centre in Dublin, has been closed for the last nine months since the onset of Covid 19.

The service has been running for nearly 30 years, providing vital services and helping thousands of people over that time.

Since March and the coronavirus pandemic, the clinic has been closed with staff redeployed elsewhere.

The demand for the services is constantly increasing, according to the clinic's most recent annual report which states that last year over 11,000 men attended the facility.

The HSE said the clients have been redirected to clinics and hospitals elsewhere during the pandemic but campaigners, including Bill Foley from Gay Health Network, want the facility to reopen as soon as possible.

He says: "It's vitally important as it's the only specialised clinic that targets gay men and men who have sex with men, in terms of sexual health.

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"And on World Aids Day in Ireland it's an unfortunate thing to announce that the specialised service that treats and prevents HIV is not open."

The closure is happening as Ireland saw an all-time high of 536 new HIV cases last year, and there are concerns that 2020 will see similar numbers.

Stephen O'Hare from HIV Ireland says: "What we see from the weekly stats from the Health Protection Surveillance Centre is that the rates of newly notified cases are staying on a par in what we've seen in previous years, and that really is a worry".

The HSE has said services at the clinic are expected to reopen in January.