THE HSE is considering the closure of Dublin's only dedicated HIV ward, the Herald has learned.
The Rowan ward at Cherry Orchard Hospital, in Rathfarnham, faces the axe due to HSE cutbacks, senior medical sources at the hospital have revealed.
The 18-bed ward provides care to patients suffering from Aids, and is staffed by 12 nurses and two nursing managers.
Hospital sources have revealed to the Herald that the future of the ward has been put "under review" but staff understand the HSE is keen on closing the ward.
"We've been left in limbo and aren't being told much at the moment. We're obviously very worried about the future of the ward," a source said.
The Rowan ward was opened in the early 1990s and provides care to HIV patients. It is the only dedicated respite care unit of its kind in Dublin.
Patients using the facility today told the Herald that they are extremely worried that the ward is set to close.
"We've being hearing rumours for a long time now that the ward is on the way out," according to one male patient.
"I can't tell you how much this facility has allowed me to turn my life around. I truly believe I'd be dead if it wasn't for the treatment I received.
"When people hear HIV, they think we're all junkies. But that's not true at all. I've been off drugs for years now and it's all down to this facility."
And a female patient being treated in the ward told the Herald she doesn't know what she'll do if the ward is closed.
"Where will I go to get treatment? This centre has changed my life. It's allowed me to get better and get my life back on track. I'm devastated to hear it may close."
Councillor Louise Minihan said the closure will have a "massive effect" on HIV sufferers.
"This is just another in a long line of attacks. The Rowan ward provides essential services to patients suffering from HIV who come from all over Dublin to receive treatment and essential care."
A spokesperson for the HSE said she could not provide a comment on the matter.