St. James’s Hospital provides the largest free treatment centre for HIV and sexual health in Ireland for all STI, HIV and infectious disease through our GUIDE Clinic.
In 2015, 27,000 people attended the outpatients clincs at the Genital Urinary Medicine and Infectious Diseases outpatients clinics at St. James’s Hospital.
“In Ireland, rising STI rates have increased the level of concern in this area among health professionals, the government and the public.” – HSE
Here at St James’s Hospital, our mission is to provide an excellent service to patients with HIV, Sexually Transmitted Infections (STI) and Infectious Diseases. We are a highly trained team of specialists committed to ongoing research, teaching, continuous development and continuous improvement of our service.
The STI clinic is a free, walk-in sexual health service offering screening and treatment for STI’s/STD’s.
In 2013 we implemented a new model of STI clinics for asymptomatic patients – that is where there are no noticeable symptoms. In line with increasing international experience, we are providing rapid access/no examination service to asymptomatic individuals requesting an STI assessment. The primary objectives of our Clinic is to increase access and reduce waiting times for walk in STI patients and overall securing better outcomes for patient health, better quality of life, target and support those in high risk category and overall work towards better sexual health in the wider population.
The HIV clinic provides care and treatment for people who have been diagnosed with HIV. Care is provided by a multidisciplinary team of Doctors, Nurses, Medical Social Workers, Phlebotomists, Pharmacists and Health Advisors. Our clinic aims to provide a seamless system of care and treatment experience for our patients in order to meet as many of their needs in a single visit. We also work towards targeting and treating high-risk groups in identifying, treating, counselling and providing health prevention information and support. We work in partnership with various organisations across the country including Mountjoy Prison and the National Aids Alliance.
St James’s Hospital has a long association with the treatment of HIV in Ireland and in the 1980s, it was here that we provided the very first services for HIV patients and cared for, what was at that time, a very marginalised community with a very uncertain future. The treatment for HIV has greatly advanced and is now a chronic, but manageable disease through the use of appropriate medication and care. But we need to continue to both identify and prevent HIV and treat and manage the ongoing care of our HIV positive patients largely through our out-patient services. The demand for our services continues and requires new and ongoing investment in order to maintain and improve our level of care.
We require additional funds to improve the services for our patients, and this funding needs to come from private donations for investment in our services. We are also ready to discuss opportunities with companies and other foundations. We have focused our immediate needs on two areas – facilities and Newfill treatment. These are the areas that your investment can have the most immediate impact for our patients, which we cannot reasonably fund at this time.
The GUIDE clinic is located in one of the oldest parts of the St James’s Hospital complex, in what is known as Hospital 5. Whilst the team works tirelessly towards providing excellent multi-disciplinary care to our patients, the facilities themselves are in need of up-grading, improvements and re-design so that we can offer an improved patient care experience and greater privacy for those attending the clinic.
We want to raise €75,000 to re-design and refurbish our existing facilities as we strive for greater improvements to our environment to enhance patient care and allow all of our services to work together in the one location.
Anti-retroviral medication used to treat HIV, can cause ‘facial wastage’ through a loss of facial fat. The impact on appearance can consequently be highly upsetting for patients.
Newfill is a reconstructive treatment to combat the effects of the antiretroviral medication. Aside from the merely physical benefits, the Newfill treatment can enhance patients’ quality of living – and has been proven to improve adherence to therapy.
The Newfill clinic at St James’s Hospital, does not receive public funding. Currently St. James’s is the only hospital in Ireland which is able to provide the treatment at no cost to patients, but there is a need to continuously raise funds to allow for this treatment.
The clinic is continually raising funds for Newfill. Past fundraisers have included working with Mr. Gay Ireland, where the contestants raised funds for Newfill. These donations have played a valuable role in securing a service for our patients.
Sexual health is an important part of overall health. It means the absence of disease and infections but sexual health also covers well-being, the ability to control fertility and to have children and the ability to enjoy fulfilling relationships free from discrimination.
Worldwide, sexually transmitted infections (STIs) are among the most common causes of disease and are an increasing cause of ill health. Apart from the initial symptoms and discomfort, they may result in long-term health problems such as infertility, ectopic pregnancies and genital cancers.
GUIDE is involved in many community related activities, and national policy development. Some examples are:
- Four day programme of HIV point of care testing was undertaken in the mountjoy prison complex, testing over 500 inmates during that time. This activity co-incided with Irish AIDS day and represented a joint initiative between the GUIDE clinic, the Red Cross and the Irish Prison Service. The objectives of the programme were to reduce HIT stigma, raise HIV awareness and promote HIV testing.
- A community based STI testing initiative in collaboration with Dublin AIDS Alliance was established in 2013 and this initiative was awarded funding from Gilead Sciences.
- A cross-departmental collaborative an Emergency Department (ED) based team undertook an ED based testing for blood born viruses including HIV and Hepatitis C. The initiative commenced in April 2014 and has now completed Phase 1 and the results are being analysed. In cases where patients had positive results, they were able to move forward and secure treatment through the benefit of screening. The ED can be the main healthcare contact for marginalised people. Therefore screening programs in the ED give an extra opportunity to assess their wider health issues. An Emergency Department/Dept of Genito-Urinary Medicine and Infectious Diseases/Dept of Hepatology/Dept of Microbiology all worked together to make this screening happen and secured financial support to do so.
- GUIDE was engaged in the development of the first national sexual health strategy which was presented to government and is awaiting publication.
- GUIDE was involved with the second Sexual Health Awareness Week, hosted by the Royal College of Physicians in partnership with the HSE Crisis pregnancy Programme, November 2013.