MPOWER Rapid HIV Testing to continue as an essential service throughout Level 5

Although walk-ins will not be possible during the lockdown, the sexual health programme will still be available by appointment.

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The MPOWER Rapid HIV Testing service in Dublin is to continue running as an essential service while the country moves to Level 5 of the COVID-19 response.

While a walk-in service is not available at present and lockdown prevents the team from offering testing in pubs, clubs, saunas and community centres as they would usually, appointments can still be made for Rapid HIV Testing.

MPOWER Programme Manager, Adam Shanley, shared, “Last time we faced into similar restrictions in March, we knew a lot less about COVID than we do now and on the recommendation of the public health authorities, we paused the service. As restrictions were eased and we learned more about how to prevent the virus, we were in a position to restart – we moved the service from LGBTQ+ venues to our offices and made a full COVID safety plan to keep everyone safe. 

“Demand for the MPOWER rapid HIV testing service has been consistently high since we restarted in June, reflective of the drop in wider service availability. We’ve also had a rise in the number of reactive results within our service over the short time since we’ve returned. We can’t say that’s indicative of a trend in rising HIV transmissions but it makes it all the more important that folks have continued access to testing.”

Shanley shared, “We believe that continued access to low-threshold, community-based HIV testing is an essential service during a lockdown. We spoke with colleagues in the HSE who considered our request and were supportive of us remaining available. 

Health is always our number one concern. We’ve had a full COVID-safety plan in place since June to keep service users safe. While we would normally have our fantastic team of trained volunteers delivering the service, for now, under Level 5 restrictions our MPOWER Outreach Staff Team will be stepping in instead.”

The service will remain available on Wednesdays 6 – 8pm and Saturday’s 2 – 4pm, access is by appointment only which can be booked 24hrs in advance at hivireland.ie/mpower. Service users will be allowed to travel outside of their 5km limit to attend their rapid testing appointment and will receive a text message confirming this. 

The Sexual Health Centre in Cork is also set to continue its free HIV Testing service. Strictly by appointment only, visit their website here for more information.

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