HSE announces launch of free home testing service for STIs
People aged 17 and older can avail of the service.
The HSE has launched a free national online service that provides people in Ireland aged 17 and older with the option to test for sexually transmitted infections (STIs) at home.
People in this age group can order a free STI test kit on an online platform, which is delivered to their homes by post.
Users are able to then complete the tests at their homes, before posting the necessary samples to a laboratory through the pre-paid envelope provided.
After this, individuals receive their results by text or phone, and those who require further testing and treatment are referred to participating public STI clinics.
In a statement on Tuesday (4 October), the HSE said the new service is generally most suitable for people who do not have symptoms of an STI.
Anyone who has symptoms of an STI is advised to attend an STI clinic or their GP for assessment.
Health Minister Stephen Donnelly called the development of the online STI testing programme "one of the most important innovations" in Ireland's sexual health services in recent years.
"This service has already been the subject of a very successful pilot project, initially funded by the Sláintecare Integration Fund and developed by the HSE Sexual Health and Crisis Pregnancy Programme (HSCPP), which in its first five months, saw over 13,000 home testing kits being delivered," he added.
"Since the conclusion of that pilot programme, work has been ongoing on expanding this to a national service, and I was pleased to be able to secure €550,000 in funding in the recent Budget to progress this further.”
Meanwhile, Clinical Lead for Sexual Health Professor Fiona Lyons said the service was an "important step towards increasing STI testing access and capacity".
"It offers greater choice to individuals, promotes self-care and overcomes many barriers to STI testing," she stated.
"Integrating the service with public STI clinics ensures that where necessary individuals have a seamless pathway to additional care.”
The HSE has said it will support the launch of the new service with a digital, social and outdoor campaign to promote its availability.
More information about the service, including how to access a free STI test, is available at SexualWellbeing.ie.