Adelaide’s queer community hold fears for the future of a vital HIV healthcare service.
O’Brien Street General Practice is located in Adelaide’s CBD and was established in 1991.
It provides essential prevention and management treatments for around 250 South Australians living with HIV.
However, with their lease due to expire in under three months, LGBTQIA+ advocates have voiced their concerns about the future of the practice.
O’Brien Street GP is currently managed by SA Health’s Central Adelaide Local Health Network (CALHN).
A spokesperson for the South Australian Rainbow Advocacy Alliance (SARAA) said that CALHN had conducted a “review” of the service in the lead-up to the lease expiry.
“This review appears to have occurred in isolation of any meaningful consultation with any patients who use the service, staff, medical practitioners, or the broader LGBTIQA+ community,” they said.
“These events have understandably caused significant fear and distress amongst an already vulnerable cohort.
“Our communities have been once again left in the dark with no communication and no say in decisions central to their health.
“Indeed, a lack of transparency by our public health services has created an environment for confusion and rumour to thrive, putting unnecessary and avoidable stress and anxiety upon people living with HIV.”
CALHN responds to concerns about O’Brien Street General Practice
However, yesterday CALHN released a statement about the future of the O’Brien Street General Practice.
In the statement, CALHN assured community members that the service would not be closing.
“Services delivered by the O’Brien Street Practice are required to relocate to new premises during the 2022 calendar year,” a spokesperson said.
“We will ensure that the new location will have up-to-date information technology services, which will improve care and appointment booking processes for our patients.”
The statement confirmed that all regular practitioners at O’Brien Street will also have the option to relocate to the new location.
If they are not willing to relocate, CALHN confirmed that practitioners will work with their patients to ensure continuity of care.
“Ensuring patient care needs continue to be met throughout the transition is our priority,” the spokesperson said.
‘The timing of these changes could not be worse’
However, SARAA criticized the timing of the relocation given the current Monkeypox outbreak.
“The timing of these changes could not be worse,” a spokesperson said.
“Given people living with HIV are currently living with a chronic health condition in the midst of not one but two global public health emergencies, the mere thought of relocating a major HIV service in the next 3-4 months is completely irresponsible and yet another blow to an already vulnerable community.”
An O’Brien Street General Practice patient also voiced their concerns about the future of the clinic.
“I’m devastated that this will potentially be another HIV service that will bite the dust with bureaucracy standing by doing nothing,” they said.
“CALHN have known the lease won’t be renewed since last year but NOTHING has been done to facilitate a smooth transition.”
Current patients can reach out to the O’Brien Street General Pratice by emailing ContactObrienServices@sa.gov.au.
They request that patients leave their contact details if they wish to receive a return phone call.
SARAA has launched a petition calling on SA Health to provide continuity of quality and accessible care for O’Brien Street patients.