ACT UP Dublin has welcomed the recently announced HSE pilot of a home STI testing service taking place across Dublin, Cork and Kerry; delivered in partnership with established online STI testing provider SH:24.
The project offers the possibility for people within the three counties to order an STI testing kit online, which will be delivered to their home in discreet packaging, where they can subsequently provide urine, swabs and finger-prick blood samples to test for HIV and other common sexually transmitted infections.
This is the first project of its kind in Ireland and will provide for convenience of access for people across the counties to test for an STI.
“It is disappointing to note that capacity has been reached within 24 hours; this is evidence of the massive demand for this service. ACT UP Dublin are calling on the providers to increase capacity and recommence the service as soon as possible,” ACT UP Dublin said in a statement.
Regular STI testing is important in maintaining sexual health and preventing the transmission of STIs, even if you don’t have any symptoms it’s important to get tested regularly if you are sexually active.
According to the HSE Health Protection Surveillance Centre, HIV and STI rates have been increasing in Ireland in recent years, STI rates up 7% in 2018 and HIV rates continue to rise. Increases are seen especially amongst young people and gay, bisexual and men who have sex with men, however, everybody who is engaging in sexual activity should get tested regularly.
ACT UP Dublin said they do not consider online and home testing services as a replacement for full sexual health services, but can help improve access to and complement face to face sexual health consultations.
During the COVID-19 pandemic, sexual health services have been significantly diminished with many services closing, including Ireland’s only sexual health services dedicated to gay, bisexual men and the trans community.
ACT UP Dublin have also called for the opening of all sexual health services and for the capacity to be developed further so that there is adequate access for all people in Ireland to STI testing and appropriate sexual healthcare.
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