TCDSU to purchase 500 rapid HIV testing kits

The union has been mandated to lobby for free rapid-testing

A motion mandating Trinity College Dublin Students’ Union (TCDSU) to “lobby to make free, rapid HIV testing accessible to all” was passed at Council this evening.

The motion also mandates the union to purchase approximately 500 rapid HIV testing kits as a pilot scheme using money in a fund from the Higher Education Authority (HEA). They will write a collaborative report with HIV Ireland based on the usage of these kits.

Furthermore, an endowment fund is be established to provide free, rapid HIV testing kits for students in the long term. The funding for this will also come from the HEA fund.

This motion was proposed by TCDSU President Eoin Hand and seconded by TCDSU Communications and Marketing Officer Philly Holmes. 

At Council, Hand said that he is “quite passionate” about this motion after being in “constant contact” with HIV Ireland this year. 

Holmes spoke next, saying he “genuinely cannot urge you to vote in favour of this enough” and “as a member of the LGBT community” passing this motion would ensure people “can get the healthcare they need”.

LGBT+ Rights Officer Brian Hastings urged students to favour of the motion, saying that it is “so important for LGBT community, even more important in college.”

Speaking to Trinity News ahead of Council, Holmes said that “this motion was developed based on the persistent work of current SU President Eoin Hand to establish a crucial relationship with HIV Ireland”. 

Holmes highlighted the “chronic underfunding of key services such as HIV Ireland and the closure of the Gay Men’s Health Service during the Covid-19 pandemic” as “barriers faced by those seeking testing and diagnosis.” 

We hope that the passing of this motion and provision of these testing kits in the short term will provide a continuity of care for students in need of safe, confidential and efficient testing during the ongoing pandemic and beyond,” Holmes said.

“Right now Ireland experiences HIV transmission rates that are almost double that of the European average and we are also currently experiencing higher transmission rates than those seen during the height of the AIDs epidemic in Ireland,” he said.

“As a member of the LGBT+ community and a representative of the SU, it’s important that we acknowledge that we stand on the shoulders of a generation of LGBT+ people that was ravaged by the HIV Epidemic. We are incredibly grateful for their activism and we are sorry for their loss. It’s crucial that we memorialise their hard work and recognise the barriers faced historically by LGBT+ people in Ireland but also worldwide.”

The kits will be provided via HIV Ireland and will be available to students via a form on tcdsu.org. 

Council is taking place this evening over a Zoom call.

Kate Henshaw

Kate Henshaw is the Assistant News Editor of Trinity News, and a Senior Fresh Sociology and Social Policy student.