KnowNow, Ireland’s first national free rapid HIV testing will provide free testing in Cork, Limerick and Dublin.
GLEN, The Sexual Health Centre Cork and GOSHH Limerick today launched a free national HIV testing programme which will provide free testing in a non-clinical setting, provided by a team of volunteers. Testing points will be located in a variety of places in Limerick, Cork and Dublin, including Pantibar, on Capel Street.
According to the latest diagnosis figures, HIV remains an issue of critical concern for gay and bisexual men. The figures for 2015 show that this demographic is the group most likely to contract HIV in Ireland. The need for men to know their HIV status is more important than ever, and the stigma around HIV needs to be eradicated.
Rory O’Neill, aka Panti Bliss, was on hand at the official launch of the national HIV testing project, saying, “There is still far too much stigma around HIV and knowing your HIV status. As part of tackling that stigma we need to provide opportunities to test for HIV that are convenient, affirmative and that are provided how, when and where is most appropriate for the people we are encouraging to test. Pantibar are delighted to support the project and have testing take place in our bar”
Tiernan Brady, director of Gay HIV Strategies for GLEN added, “KnowNow, the new rapid HIV testing pilot is an exciting and innovative new approach to enabling more people to know their HIV status. If people have HIV then the earlier they become aware of their status the better it will be for their long term health outcomes. In addition, most HIV is transmitted by people who are unaware that they have HIV, so early diagnosis can further reduce onward transmission rates”.
Funding for the project was announced by Minister for Health Leo Varadkar TD at the recent launch of Ireland’s first National Sexual Health Strategy.
The Minister said he was “delighted” that Department of Health provided €150,000 to fund the project and welcomed such an important initiative. “It means that Dublin now has its first ever free rapid HIV testing service,” he said. “The one-year pilot will offer a mix of on-site testing in workplaces, bars and other hubs. This is a significant development in promoting safer sexual health in Dublin and the surrounding area, and compliments services already underway in Cork and Limerick.”
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