Wednesday, 7 December 2016
Topical Issue Debate
I thank the Minister of State for her response. I am somewhat encouraged by the last line of her response, which I interpret as a signal that the Minister of State intends to launch a national demonstration project. I am reading between the lines that the Minister of State is aware that the KnowNow pilot project has been a success and that this will translate into the sort of support my question was prompting. I have a slight concern. We are looking to roll it out on a more full-time, secure basis in 2017, and we are not far from the new year.
Can the Minister of State say in her further reply whether the decisions in this regard will be taken before the end of the year or what timeline is intended? I agree fully with the Minister of State who outlined in her response that there is a whole variety of other issues in terms of promoting condom use and other sexual health education measures, but the scale of the crisis with 480 people contracting HIV is not small. It is one which could very rapidly grow if we fail to stem it at the earliest stage. That is the advantage of the two measures I have set out in particular. While there might be costs involved, it is clear that prevention is better than cure. While the costs of identifying and supporting and providing those anti-viral drugs for the very high at-risk groups would have to be borne by the State, the advantage would be that the prevention of infection would not only save the quality of life of the individual who might otherwise contract HIV but also the State in terms of the services we would have to provide to that person through his or her life. While I am encouraged by the Minister of State's response, I will be looking for a very definite decision in the coming weeks so we can go into 2017 with certainty for those working in the area.