The finalists in this year’s Mr Gay Ireland have fundraised and contributed more than €10,000 to St. James’s Hospital. Their contribution is given most generously to support the hospital’s Newfill Clinic – a service provided for HIV/Aids patients.
Organised by the International Dublin Gay Theatre Festival, the annual Mr Gay Ireland competition is the only ‘all-Island’ gay community event according to its organisers. There were 150 entries this year from all over the island, each of whom competed in one of 23 heats to reach hotly-contested finals night at the Arlington Hotel in Dublin on October 30th. Steven Baitson from Dublin was crowned Mr Gay Ireland 2012 and Derry born Daniel Hegarty won the Mr Gay Northern Ireland 2012 competition.
As a part of the competition, all 18 finalists fundraised for the St. James’s Hospital Newfill Clinic. Newfill is a reconstructive treatment to combat the effects of the antiretroviral medication used to treat HIV. This medicine can cause ‘facial wastage’ through a loss of facial fat, and consequently, can be highly upsetting for patients. 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 receives no public funding, and St. James’s is the only hospital in Ireland which is able to provide the treatment at no cost to patients. The annual donation received by the clinic from the Mr Gay Ireland competition plays a hugely important role in ensuring the availability of this service, and staff at the hospital aredeeply grateful to both the producers and the fundraisers.
St. James’s Hospital provides the largest treatment centre for HIV and sexual health in Ireland – in 2010, the Genital Urinary Medicine and Infectious Diseases outpatients clinics at St. James’s were attended by 23,600 people.
Steven Baitson with Glenda Gilsen (one of the judges in the final) and Daniel Hegarty