Saturday 20 October 2018

Low-cost home-testing STI kits to be made available in Ireland

STI kits
STI kits

Aishling Phelan

The Irish Family Planning Association will provide low-cost home testing kits to people concerned that they have contracted a sexually transmitted infection.

The new confidential testing service will test for the most common STIs including chlamydia, gonorrhoea and HIV.

Chlamydia trachomatis was the most frequently notified STI in Ireland in 2012, accounting for 48.4 per cent of those who contracted an infection.  

The number of notifications of gonorrhoea increased by 33pc over 2011 and as a result the incidence rate is now the highest rate ever recorded.

“Any sexually active person may be exposed to an STI and we would advise them to get tested regularly, especially in light of the high rates of infection recorded among people in their 20s and 30s,” said Dr Tom Brett of Lloyds Online Doctor.

“In partnership with the IFPA we have developed a convenient and simple testing kit for chlamydia and gonorrhoea: You complete a short questionnaire to assess whether the online service is right for you,” he said.

The test is conducted at home and then users can post their sample directly to the laboratory for assessment.

“A home test kit will then be sent to your nominated address. Collect your sample at home then post it to our partner laboratory in Dublin. You will then be notified of your results via your confidential online record. The tests are as accurate as any test from a clinic and your results are completely confidential,” he added.

Poor sexual health is concentrated in young adults, with more than half of STI notifications among those aged 20 to 29 according to the HSE’s Health Protection Surveillance Centre report for 2012.

The standard sexual health service from Lloyds Online Doctor tests for genital chlamydia and genital gonorrhoea which together account for the majority of sexually transmitted infections in Ireland.  

As both infections may not display symptoms, it is important that those concerned are tested as they can cause serious health problems.

An enhanced test also tests for HIV in addition to chlamydia and gonorrhoea. The standard service costs €50 and the enhanced service costs €70 including postage, compared to tests in clinics costing upwards of €125.

The IFPA and Lloyds Online Doctor stressed that any individual experiencing severe pain from a suspected STI infection should not use the testing service and should instead visit an IFPA clinic without delay.

‘‘STI rates in Ireland have risen significantly in recent years, and we lack an adequate framework to respond to the need for testing. Developing innovative ways of facilitating access to STI testing services must be a central priority for Ireland’s forthcoming National Sexual Health Strategy,’’ said Dr. Caitriona Henchion, IFPA Medical Director.

The service began to provide more accessible and affordable testing to increase early detection and treatment.

‘‘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-income who can be required to pay upwards of €125 for a full screening at local STI clinics,’’ she said.

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