What next for NI’ drug crisis

Yesterday Positive Moving On published a report based on twelve months of investigating the current drug crisis in Northern Ireland. Using data available to the public along with talking to drug users and those currently experiencing addiction we found a troubling picture in NI where people are waiting far beyond what they should for treatment and a notable discrepancy between services base on trust area and have been notified that waiting times also vary severely depending on trust with drug users in Belfast waiting up to two years for a prescription that can be obtained by Lisburn residents in a matter of 2/3 months maximum.

Attached is some of what we found out over the last year along with suggestions on how we view the situation should be. They may not be agreeable to all or indeed seem realistic given the lack of finance available as well as a broken government, however, they are a start and no matter what approach is taken next it requires fresh thinking and ideas which will inevitably cost money which will have to be found from somewhere, perhaps it could be paid for out of the £1bn acquired during the conservative deal.

 

 

TOLERANCE POLICY

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Check it out check it out 

In keeping with announcing our new structure later this November (don’t worry this will in no way effect current strategies and directives), we have launched our new look website and logo. When brainstorming earlier in the year one of the biggest buzzwords was “vibrancy” both for the look of positivemovingon.com and our work. With splashes of purple and blue the former has hopefully been achieved, as for the latter, you can tell us in time.
Take a look at the site and don’t forget to follow our blog where you can generally read the ramblings of Andrew also if you have any HIV related questions you would like answered in an article on the site feel free to send them in, if you wish this can be done anonymously or under a pseudonym via our contact page, in any event we will not print your name with the article. 
I’ll love you all and leave you to it. 

Let’s talk about abusive threats within the sexual health sector.

By Andrew Goyvaerts 

@PMovingOnCICCEO
Fear, a common feeling that connects us not just as humans but as simple beings on earth, from cats to our parents it is something we have all felt at one point or another. The only time fear becomes uncommon and unacceptable is when it is unreasonable. 

Fear of HIV has been so deeply ingrained in some people that they do not want to believe viral suppression means PLWHIV cannot pass it on. 

I experienced this once again today when I was called a liar and told to “shut up or get fucked up” (he did not mean fucked up in a good way). This was in between explicits and being told I am dirty.
Now some people might say it is perfectly rational to fear a virus like HIV, in fact for those born after 1982 it has been considered educational to enlist fear of HIV, those people are correct to a certain degree. While it is a manageable condition I would prefer not to have it just as I would prefer not to have epilepsy or the migraine being nursed at this particular moment but it is irrational to fear those who are living with it irregardless of viral suppression and even more irrational to fear scientific fact that updates education from the 80s to say those who have achieved viral suppression literally cannot pass HIV on to others. 
What strikes one as a common denominator with these unbelievers that would lead to the conclusion of their verbal attacks and threats being based on fear is their unwillingness to debate. 

When UequalsU first took stage people did not join the conversation saying, your point of view is wrong and I’m going to kick the head off you for having it, they joined the conversation with scientific evidence, laid it out and debated its merits. If someone from the unbelievers wished to do the same it would be more than okay, however this inclination to abuse and threaten is not okay or something anyone deserves to be subject to. Beyond it not being okay, it lacks education, merit and any comment from me further than saying that it does not matter if you are afraid, to verbally attack and threaten someone purely because their factual opinion differs from yours is to be among the most despicable forms of a human being. 
A subsequent conversation lead me to think more about something I was already aware of, this is not just happening to me and it does not seem to happen in many other areas of health apart from HIV and sexual reproductive health. Given that, I do not want this post to just become a condemnation of such barbaric acts but instead to become an acknowledgment within our community that even in 2017 the threats are still there because I fear that if we hesitate to acknowledge it we are left more perceptible to such threats and perhaps even action. Also I want any of my fellow advocates to know that I am here for you should such a situation arise to talk or provide support for if any threat is too close to home it can be of great concern to a person and I hate the thought of anyone going through this without the support I am lucky enough to have. 
Stay safe all and just remember, we are not the ones who are reduced to threatening physical violence because or opinion lacks educational fact, how empty life must feel for them. 

Why are we waiting 

By Andrew Goyvaerts 

@PMovingOnCICCEO

The clock is ticking down to another year nearly over and with it as little answers on an introduction of PrEP in Northern Ireland and many areas across Europe including Ireland, as there have been about Trump and the Russians.
Having long surpassed the point of consideration we should now be at the point of answers and action, however the sound of silence reverberates through the corridors of the HSC and DoH. 

While budgets, boilers and a broken Stormont create havoc among public sectors with deadline after deadline to restore a functional executive having come and gone (Oxford plan to change the definition of deadline soon), matters on the ground are suffering beyond measure. There must come a point when coordination along with cooperation of some sort happens in order to pass a budget which will enable action on matters that have become totally stagnant during this entire debacle. 
Northern Ireland recorded a dramatic increase in HIV diagnoses over the last number of years and it is highly likely this year will see a further increase, it will only be with thanks to current treatment and the success of viral suppression meaning those diagnosed who’s viral loads are undetectable cannot pass on the virus, as well as the current protection available in the form of PEP along with condoms, if there is not a further rise in. 

The inaction of our institutions over the course of 2017 to function as they should is a mounting disgrace as each day passes.
Stormont has been hanging over a cliff and as usual it’s the ordinary citizens who are paying the price with job losses, rising homelessness as well as public services being seen as nothing more than collateral damage in a game of chicken. During this time social considerations have increased with a rise in people living and dying on the street along with a steep rise in people using drugs in particular intravenous drugs.
The time for talking on the hill is done, it’s time for action from someone wether that is Mr. Brokenshire or the two lady’s of the estate. In the words of a brand that shall not be named for fear of copyright “just do it”

UequalsU hits the road…

So a while ago after spending the day brainstorming new ways of generating publicity for UequalsU during 2018 I set off on a trip home to Cork from Belfast, during this journey I sarcastically thought how much quicker and probably easier it would be if I could just walk there instead of waiting on train connections and the regular breakdowns of Iarneod Eireann (in truth IrishRail is actually a really good service, as I say I was sarcastically thinking). 
Long story short, the adventurist within me met the activist on that journey and after a lot of consideration, investigation and conversation with fitness instructors, doctors and family I am delighted to announce that I will be undertaking a solo sponsored walk from Belfast to Dublin in July 2018 on behalf of Positive Moving On to raise awareness of the UequalsU message and HIV stigma. 

Nearly 300 miles on foot with just 14 days it will be a challenge but what is life without one, at times I think it’s impossible but then they said that in the 80s about treating HIV and just look where we are today, also I have no doubt of meeting some amazing people along the way leading to amazing memories which will spur me on my route. 

I will be releasing my route map in January which will detail my departure date, time and place as well as all stop offs along the route. Hope to see you at one xx