A NEW HOME testing kit will allow people to test themselves for some of the most common sexually transmitted infections.
The service is aimed at people who may not be able to afford the cost of a regular STI test or who live far away from their nearest clinic.
Under the new testing kit, provided by the Irish Family Planning Association and Lloyds Online Doctor, people complete a short questionnaire before they are sent the kit. After collecting a sample, they post it to a laboratory in Dublin and will be notified of the results online.
The medical director of the Irish Family Planning Association said that new ways were needed to ensure that people get access to sexual health services.
“Eliminating barriers to STI testing services is critical, in particular for people living in remote areas who face challenges in accessing testing services located in public hospitals, and for people on low incomes who can be required to pay upwards of €125 for a full screening at local STI clinics,” said Dr Caitriona Henchion.
The standard test costs €50 while the enhanced test cost €70, compared to an average cost of €125 at a clinic.
“The tests are as accurate as any test from a clinic and your results are completely confidential,” said Dr Tom Brett of Lloyds Online Doctor.
A recent study found the majority of people in Ireland have never been tested for STIs.
There were almost 13,000 sexually transmitted infections recorded in Ireland last year with chlamydia accounting for almost half of all cases. While the overall figures for STIs were down, cases of gonorrhoea hit their highest number ever recorded in Ireland with 1,110 notifications – an increase of one third on the previous year.
The IFPA and Lloyds Online Doctor said that anyone with extreme pain or severe symptoms from a suspect STI infection should not use the testing service and should instead visit a doctor without delay.