Síofra Grant discusses the importance of looking after your sexual health with GOSHH representatives.
As colleges across the country open their doors to students again, and as classes and nights out recommence, an outbreak of gonorrhoea is sweeping the nation – with students making up a significant portion of these record high case numbers.
However, for Limerick specifically, there is a particularly determined organisation fighting to minimise infection rates, educate, and normalise regular testing for all communities in Limerick.
Gender, Orientation, Sexual Health, HIV (GOSHH) is a resource designed to support the community with any problem that concerns sexual health; be that supporting those discovering their sexuality, or those who are looking to be tested for STIS and find themselves on a long waiting list, or too nervous to attend the clinics.
With gonorrhoea cases on the rise in Limerick, GOSHH have trialled a machine which allows for rapid testing, with results ready in less than an hour and a half. The organisation recently promoted this innovative technology on visits to Limerick universities and various pop-up events around the county, testing a number of those in attendance for both gonorrhoea and chlamydia, while also encouraging Hepatitis C and HIV testing.
GOSHH had the machine for a trial period, so while it’s no longer available to them, the hardworking team are looking for funding to make the machine a permanent feature in their testing facilities, Martina McKnight and Erica Noonan of GOSHH told Limerick Voice.
Martina, the Personal Support Worker at GOSHH, and Erica Noonan, the Health Promotion Worker at GOSHH since 2022, sat down with Limerick Voice to discuss the importance of sexual health and wellbeing, the promotion of regular testing, how GOSHH reaches almost all areas of Limerick as well as what resources GOSHH offers and the supports that are available to those who need them.
“We can provide follow-up care,” Erica stated, not in a medical sense, she made clear, but in terms of advice and emotion support – “We can talk them through it.”
Martina noted how the students they interact with have confessed to feeling more comfortable using GOSHH’s services over STI clinics, who are under more stress and have to work through service users faster.
“Students tell us things are so speedy in the clinics that they don’t get the chance to talk,” Martina commented.
GOSHH offer free condoms and period products that can be found on Davis Street in Limerick City.
Students are not the only group that GOSHH works with – they also have a close relationship with homeless people across the county, a part of the job Martina is particularly passionate about.
When it comes to the homeless community, the group goes out to them, working alongside different agencies and hospitals, similarly to how they meet students. This hands-on approach encourages people to pop into the GOSHH headquarters in person.
These in-person interactions help get the word out about the incredible work GOSHH does in the community, and has done for years.
“The first time we went to colleges, we maybe got 10 people. And now, we could be there for two hours,”Martina added.
GOSHH has always had a close relationship with the LGBTQ+ Community in Limerick and the surrounding areas. They offer resources to people of all ages who are struggling to come to terms with their sexual identities.
Find out more about GOSHH – here!