Recruitment underway for outreach worker to visit Cork's public sex spots

The role will initially focus on responding to the sexual health needs of men who have sex with men in a public environment
Recruitment underway for outreach worker to visit Cork's public sex spots

Dr Martin Davoren: 'One of our missions is to reduce barriers to access to sexual health advice and supports.'

An outreach worker is set to visit some of Cork’s public sex cruising spots to offer sexual health advice and supports.

Recruitment is now underway for the HSE-funded ‘public sex environment outreach worker’ role with the Sexual Health Centre in Cork city. 

Dr Martin Davoren, the centre's executive director, described it as a “challenging yet exciting new role”.

“It’s quite a bespoke role and it’s not going to be for everybody but we are excited to introduce it,” he said.

While some people use apps to hook up with sexual partners, Dr Davoren said there was a significant cohort of mainly older men who don’t use such technology to meet sexual partners.

“Public sex environments are active and alive in Ireland,” he said.

"One of our missions is to reduce barriers to access to sexual health advice and supports.

“We need to meet people, especially those who are marginalised or who are hard to reach, in environments where they are active.

"With up to 6,000 people living in Ireland today with HIV, one of the biggest things we can do is provide people with an up-to-date status and link them to care and supports to ensure they can live a long and healthy life."

The role will initially focus on responding to the sexual health needs of men who have sex with men in a public environment, with the outreach worker providing information leaflets and condoms, signposting services and supports, and encouraging people to talk about their sexual health.

But it is hoped that, in time, the centre will be able to deploy a mobile testing unit to provide rapid HIV testing on-site.

Dr Davoren said they have learned a lot from their European counterparts about what's needed to make the role safe and effective. 

The outreach worker will be accompanied during site visits and will have a check-in app with a direct link to a security company.

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