On Saturday (April 9) the basement of Pantibar will function as an impromptu HIV-Aids testing clinic, in response to the rising number of the new diagnoses.
Titled ‘KnowNow’, Ireland’s first national free rapid HIV testing programme was launched by GLEN, The Sexual Health Centre Cork and GOSHH Limerick on March 31. The testing is community based and will be provided by a team of community volunteers in a variety of non-clinical venues, such as Capel Street’s Pantibar.
Speaking at the KnowNow launch, Minister for Health Leo Varadkar said: “I really welcome the launch of this pilot service and I’m delighted that the Department of Health has provided €150,000 to support it. It means that Dublin now has its first ever free rapid HIV testing service.
“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.”
Rory O’Neill, told the Guardian he wanted the downstairs section of his bar on Dublin’s Capel Street to help protect a new generation of young gay men. “From a pin prick to draw blood, it will take about 30 seconds to get a diagnosis from the test kit. And if a result for someone is positive there will be trained counsellors on hand in the bar to help anyone,” he said.
“I will be around too when I can be to tell anyone who tests positive ‘look, this is no longer the death sentence my generation of gay men thought it was back in the 1980s and 1990s’. I will tell them that I have been HIV positive for more than 20 years and I am still here!”
Anyone who tests positive will be referred to the HSE for treatment and counselling. The testing service is to be rolled out in other parts of Dublin city as well as Cork and Limerick, later this year.
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