The article stated “that one of Ireland’s most respected TV producers, Bill Hughes, has urged RTÉ to start a conversation about Aids, as new HIV cases here reach their highest point in five years.”
A recent report by the HSE’s Health Protection Surveillance Centre (HPSC) shows there were 377 new cases of HIV in 2014 alone. This represents an 11% rise on the previous year.
Back in the 1980s, when I was chairman of the South Cork Health Advisory Committee of the SHB, I was involved in the Fight Against AIDS campaign in Ireland.
While we have hospice care in Cork, when required, there is no hostel cum rehabilitation centre to facilitate these needs.
There are many calls from people who have full-blown Aids and who want to return home from places as far away as Canada, Australia, England and America.
It is sad that our own people have to go abroad for hostel cum rehabilitation care, far away from family and friends, and where some die in isolation. Although fear of rejection by family or community remains a real concern for people affected with HIV, medical services have improved considerably. Many of these people return to the work place.
It is important, however, to have the necessary psycho-social support mechanisms to assist those returning to work and those who do not respond to treatment.
First and foremost, an RTÉ TV education programme on HIV and Aids is a proposal that must be pursued, coupled with the reshowing of the RTÉ film, Stories from Silence – Aids in Ireland.
If Cork could get a hostel cum rehabilitation centre, it would help bring much comfort and solace to the victims and their families.
I appeal to our new Minister for Health, Dr Leo Varadkar TD, to do his utmost to provide the funding for the services requested and to add his voice in support of the education programme.