Dubliners demanding STI home testing kits as COVID causes clinic closures

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Dubliners are creating a demand for home STI testing kits due to the closure of clinics during the pandemic.

More than 1,800 STI home test kits were ordered in Dublin, Cork and Kerry in just over a week by the HSE with demand growing nationwide.  

People can order the tests online, post in the samples and get their results by text or call as part of the scheme which is in operation for the second time this year.

Due to testing demand, only people with an address in Dublin, Cork or Kerry can order a test for now with free follow-up services only available at HSE clinics in Dublin and Cork also.

The program was first launched in early January which saw 4,921 people order the kits in less than 24 hours.

It caused the HSE service to temporarily shut down as overwhelmed clinics tried to catch up with the orders. 

The three counties in particular were chosen to “ensure a mix of urban and rural settings.”

And there is hope that free kits can be offered nationwide after data has been evaluated.

Online tests could also appeal to those who may be reluctant to attend a family GP for sexual health reasons, including younger people or members of the trans community.

In the first three months of this year, the HPSC recorded 2,450 cases of STIs but in the same period last year, just before the COVID pandemic began, they recorded 3,740 cases.

Chlamydia was the most commonly identified STI both years. HIV, gonorrhoea and syphilis were also common finds.

A spokeswoman for the HSE’s Sexual Health unit said that the reduced rate of socialising and travel: “may have led to reduced sexual activity and a reduction in the number of those requiring STI testing.”

However, she also highlighted that there is less access to STI testing.

She said: “There is at least an expectation that increased testing will bring increased diagnoses.”

Almost all sexual health services closed during the first wave of COVID and clinics had to restrict services or close completely again in January.

Tests can be ordered at www.sh24.ie

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A group of Anti-Lockdown protesters clash with Gardai) in Grafton Street, Dublin, during Level 5 Covid-19 lockdown. On Saturday, Fabruary 27, 2021, in Dublin, Ireland.

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Source: Dublin News