HIV Ireland calls on Government to meet monkeypox challenge “head on”.
Press Release, 26th July 2022
HIV Ireland is calling on the Government to meet “head on” the challenges posed by rising levels of monkeypox in Ireland. The call comes following the designation of monkeypox as “a public health emergency of international concern” by the World Health Organisation.
Speaking on foot of the announcement, HIV Ireland Board Member and Consultant in Infectious Diseases at St Vincent’s University Hospital, Prof Paddy Mallon said “That the WHO has now designated monkeypox as a public health emergency of international concern underlines the seriousness with which this current widespread outbreak should be viewed.”
“In Ireland, key priorities must include increasing awareness within the community in general about the signs and symptoms of monkeypox, accurate information on how it can be transmitted, and expanding access to testing and increasing availability of vaccination, which remain key components to the control and hopefully eradication of this infection,” he added.
Ahead of the first cases of monkeypox being identified in Ireland, the MPOWER Programme at HIV Ireland collaborated with Man2Man to mount a national awareness raising campaign targeting the gbMSM community. The campaign aims to increase awareness of the symptoms of monkeypox, develop informative and non-stigmatising messaging, and to provide guidance on accessing testing and care. The campaign is a collaboration between community-based organisations working with gbMSM, the HSE Sexual Health and Crisis Pregnancy Programme, and Health Protection Surveillance Centre.
“The approach by the campaign team has facilitated a swift and multidisciplinary response to date,” said Stephen O’Hare, Executive Director of HIV Ireland. “It is particularly encouraging that this approach has been cited by the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC) as representing best international practice.”
“As the crisis unfolds it will be imperative that more resources are made available to meet ‘head on’ the challenge posed by this public health emergency,” he added.
The MPOWER Programme at HIV Ireland develops resources and services to support and improve the sexual health and wellbeing of gbMSM. In response to the monkeypox outbreak, the MPOWER team has trained peer volunteers to deliver direct outreach on monkeypox, at venues frequented by the gbMSM community including bars, clubs, sex on premises venues and other social spaces.
Speaking ahead of a community meeting for gbMSM scheduled for Wednesday 27th July, Mr Adam Shanley, HIV Ireland’s MPOWER Programme Manager leading out on the organisation’s monkeypox response, said “We have done a lot of heavy lifting informing gay and bisexual men about monkeypox, however there are tools known to be effective in preventing onward transmission that we don’t yet have access to. As gay and bisexual men, we have a long history and strong legacy of banding together in times of adversity, and our community discussion is an example of that – we are mobilising our peers in the face of this new challenge.”
“We have an opportunity to contain the spread of monkeypox, but it requires an immediate coordinated vaccination programme that prioritises those in our community most at risk of acquiring the virus,” added Mr Shanley.
Notes for Editors:
For more information or to arrange an interview, contact Mr Stephen O’Hare, Executive Director, HIV Ireland Tel. 085 711 2635 or email firstname.lastname@example.org
Professor Patrick (Paddy) Mallon is Professor of Microbial Diseases in the UCD School of Medicine and a Consultant in Infectious Diseases in St Vincent’s University Hospital in Dublin. Prof Mallon is a Board member of HIV Ireland.