Union of Students Ireland (USI) Congress has pushed back a motion proposed by Trinity representatives to lobby for free HIV rapid testing for students across Ireland.
TCDSU Communications and Marketing Officer Philly Holmes proposed the “deeply personal” motion, noting that the transmission rate of HIV in Ireland is “double the European average” and above the rate during the AIDS crisis.
Delegate Thomas Ford of the National University of Ireland Galway Students’ Union (NUIGSU) also spoke in favour of the motion: “It’s not just a positive impact for the student body. In the wider community, we will see reduced rates of transmission.”
No one spoke in opposition to the motion, but USI Vice President for Equality and Citizenship Marie Lyons suggested referring the matter to a later meeting after being informed that she could not amend the motion to replace a reference to a “VP for Equality and Diversity” or “Universities Health Clinic” because of the Congress’ rules. The procedural motion was passed by vote.
The USI’s officer board includes a VP for Equality and Citizenship rather than a VP for Equality and Diversity.
The motion would have mandated that the USI’s “VP for Campaigns, the VP for Equality and Diversity, and the VP for Welfare to work HIV Ireland and MPOWER Ireland and work with and lobby the HSE to expand the provision of free rapid HIV testing kits and PrEP within a Universities Health Clinic for every student who needs it”.
TCDSU President Eoin Hand pledged to make HIV rapid testing available on campus in his campaign for the role and has been reporting the progress on the goal in his reports.
Hand proposed a successful motion that Holmes seconded at a TCDSU Council in March mandating the union to “lobby to make free, rapid HIV testing accessible to all”.
The TCDSU motion also mandated that a pilot scheme of “approximately 500” rapid HIV testing kits be made available to students. An endowment from the Higher Education Authority is to be used to fund the scheme.