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Dublin: 8°C Tuesday 11 May 2021

New rapid HIV testing project looking to Ireland's bars and workplaces

The new service will soon be available in Dublin’s Pantibar.

Image: Shutterstock/Sherry Yates Young

A NEW PROGRAMME aimed at providing free rapid HIV testing outside of the conventional venues has been launched.

The KnowNow campaign is specifically aimed at gay and bisexual men, and comes in response to figures that people in this group are most likely to acquire HIV.

The initiative aims to make testing available outside of the traditional venues.

Speaking about the launch, acting 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 initiative is a collaboration between Dublin-based GLEN, the Sexual Health Centre Cork and GOSHH Limerick.

knowhow - 1 Tiernan Brady from GLEN and Rory O'Neill Source: RollingNews.ie

Testing will be provided by teams of volunteers in these three cities.

One venue that is already confirmed is Pantibar on Dublin’s Capel Street.

Speaking at the launch of the project yesterday, the bar’s owner Rory O’Neill (Panti Bliss) said: “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 mot appropriate for the people we are encouraging to test.

Speaking to TheJournal.ie, director of Gay HIV Strategies for GLEN Tiernan Brady said that the efforts were aimed at creating something “utterly designed for the service user” and that over the course of the next year the project will be gathering information on the places people are most comfortable being tested.

The most recent statistics on HIV in Ireland comes from HSE-run Health Protection Surveillance Centre.

Statistics released in November found that there were 203 new HIV diagnoses during the first two quarters of 2015.

Read: Irish dentists refusing to treat HIV positive patients ‘adds to stigma’

Also: Coffee cups in Dublin are going to urge people to get tested for HIV

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