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HIV leaflet for immigrants gets Irish government OK

February 16, 2011

By Staff Reporter

By Stephen McKinley

The Irish Ministry for Health has agreed to print and distribute an HIV and AIDS awareness leaflet aimed at Irish immigrants in the U.S., according to the Lavender and Green Alliance in New York and the Dublin AIDS Alliance.

The leaflet seeks to inform Irish people who may be HIV-positive of what health care options are open to them both here and in Ireland. The leaflet also deals with immigration issues, and how HIV-positive people who are not U.S. citizens may find it difficult to receive adequate care in the U.S.

In contrast, people with Irish citizenship can receive full, up-to-date treatment for their condition in Ireland, and for free, according to the Dublin AIDS Alliance’s CEO, Tony Regan.

"We were especially concerned about HIV-positive undocumented people," said Regan, "people who don’t want to go back to Ireland, or can’t for immigration reasons." Already Regan and Lavender and Green Alliance spokesperson Brendan Fay say they have located 25-30 such Irish people in New York City. Regan believes there could be many more.

He and Fay recently met with Irish Minister for Health Michael Martin. "He was very receptive," Regan said. "We were extremely pleased. He pledged to support us, and the Health Promotion Unit in Ireland agreed to pay for printing and distribution costs of the leaflet."

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Regan said that the aim was to have the leaflet ready for distribution by June 15, Irish World AIDS Day. Minister Martin raised one caveat, which was that the Department of Health wanted to know more exact figures of how many Irish immigrants and Irish Americans with the right to live and work in Ireland were HIV-positive. Regan said that he and his colleagues in the Lavender and Green Alliance would try to establish more comprehensive statistics in the coming months.

"This is the beginning of a great collaboration [with the Department of Health]," he said.

Already this year in Ireland, concerns have been raised over the 100 percent increase in HIV infection over the last two years. Current figures put the number of cases in Ireland at around 4,500-5,000.

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