The HSE has announced that it is extending its free at-home STI testing service, making it more widely accessible across the Republic of Ireland. The pilot SH:24 (Sexual Health 24) programme was originally launched last year in Dublin, Cork and Kerry, and has been expanded as of today, October 4.
Now, anyone in the Republic of Ireland aged 17 and over can order a test kit online, which is delivered for free to the person’s preferred address. A step-by-step guide, including video links, is supplied to the user, along with all of the apparatus needed to collect the required samples.
Once the person has completed the at-home test, they then post it back to the laboratory in a pre-paid provided envelope. Results are expected to be delivered by phone or text message within 72 hours of the package arriving in the lab, and if necessary, the SH:24 team will direct persons to a public STI service for free assessment and treatment.
The at-home kits test for chlamydia, gonorrhoea, HIV and syphilis, and tests for hepatitis B and hepatitis C are also available but not always needed. The service is best used by people without symptoms, and if a person suspects they may have an STI or needs urgent support, it is recommended that they contact their local sexual health clinic or GP.
From today, everyone in Ireland aged 17 and older will have access to free home testing for sexually transmitted infections (STIs). To find out more, or to order your free home STI test kit visit: https://t.co/1GyOfwSMyr #STIHomeTesting #respectprotect pic.twitter.com/WGyhD0vmee
— HSE Ireland (@HSELive) October 4, 2022
The move to make free home STI testing available for over 17s in all counties of the Republic of Ireland comes after a 5-month pilot programme that saw people in Dublin, Cork and Kerry gain access to the service. In this period, over 137,000 kits were ordered with 8% of tests being referred to clinics for further care. Additionally, 57% of users said that they had never availed of a sexual health service before.
After the 5-months, the initiative was continued in order to improve STI testing capacity in light of the Covid-19 restrictions in clinics.
As of late, the Health Protection Surveillance Centre (HPSC) has communicated that, overall, notifications of STIs are on the rise, and suggests that it may be due to the impact of the pandemic on healthcare services, and social interaction.
To order a free at-home STI testing kit, visit sexualwellbeing.ie.
© 2022 GCN (Gay Community News). All rights reserved.
GCN has been a vital, free-of-charge information service for Ireland’s LGBTQ+ community since 1988.
During this global COVID pandemic, we like many other organisations have been impacted greatly in the way we can do business and produce. This means a temporary pause to our print publication and live events and so now more than ever we need your help to continue providing this community resource digitally.
GCN is a registered charity with a not-for-profit business model and we need your support. If you value having an independent LGBTQ+ media in Ireland, you can help from as little as €1.99 per month. Support Ireland’s free, independent LGBTQ+ media.