AIDS West was established in 1987 by Evelyn Stevens and Angela Savage under the name Cáirde with the aim of providing support to people with HIV/AIDS. In the early nineties it also took on the remit of providing education/prevention services in the west of Ireland. At that time there was no governmental or regional policy on HIV/AIDS. As the organisation lobbied for HIV/AIDS services in the west it survived on the goodwill of a number of dedicated volunteers concerned about the situation. In time, the name was changed to AIDS Help West to reflect its changing role as a support and education service.
In 1992 after the National AIDS Strategy recommended an emphasis on the role of the voluntary sector in meeting the challenge of HIV, the organisation received funding for the first time in order to deliver its services. It became a limited company in 1995.
“Happiness is Vital” newsletter provides information on AIDS West services.
In 2001, the organisation set up its website, changed its name to AIDS West and in line with best practice took as its brief the whole area of sexual health, including STIs and Hepatitis.
During 2003, the organisation developed strong links with the Infectious Disease Clinic established at University College Hospital under the direction of Dr Catherine Fleming. AIDS West rapidly provided a significant back-up service to the clinic which continues to this day.
Local people already living with HIV could now choose to have all treatment and their tri-monthly blood tests dealt with locally, rather than travelling to Dublin. Although confidentiality fears leads some patients to continue to travel to Dublin, the presence of a clinic in Galway led to a huge increase in client numbers.
Changing patterns of immigration and asylum seeking have brought new challenges to the position of the Support Service Co-ordinator. AIDS West now provides psychological and social support to the entire Western Region and to HIV positive people from a variety of backgrounds.
In 2007, AIDS West was particularly proud to publish the autobiography “Still Standing” by Liz Martin; for many years both a client and courageous supporter of the work of AIDS West.