HSE announces launch of free national home STI testing service

People living in Ireland aged 17 and older can now order an STI test kit online and carry out the tests at home

Today (4th October 2022), the HSE Sexual Health and Crisis Pregnancy Programme (SHCPP), Health and Wellbeing, launched a free national online service which provides people living in Ireland aged 17 and older, the option to test for sexually transmitted infections (STIs) at home. Full details, including how to access a free STI test is available on SexualWellbeing.ie.

People aged 17 and older can order a free STI test kit on the online platform, which is delivered to their home by post. Users complete the tests at home and post the samples to the laboratory in the pre-paid envelope provided. Individuals receive their results by text or phone, and those who require further testing and treatment are referred to participating public STI clinics, ensuring a seamless individual experience.

This new service is generally most suitable for individuals 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.

Minister for Health, Stephen Donnelly, T.D., said: “The development of the online STI testing programme is one of the most important innovations in our 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. 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.”

Professor Fiona Lyons, Clinical Lead for Sexual Health said: “I am delighted that a free online STI testing service is now available across Ireland. It is 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. Integrating the service with public STI clinics ensures that where necessary individuals have a seamless pathway to additional care.”

Maeve O'Brien, Interim Programme Lead for the HSE Sexual Health and Crisis Pregnancy Programme commented: “This initiative brings us one step closer to achieving the aims of the national strategy, which sets out to improve sexual health and wellbeing and reduce negative sexual health outcomes. Not only will the new free home STI testing service help to identify and treat undiagnosed infection in our communities, the HSE-led campaign and promotional activity will help to raise awareness of the importance of accessing free STI testing for those who need it; and will help to normalise STI testing as being an important step in self-managing our overall health and wellbeing.”

The HSE is supporting the launch with a digital, social and outdoor campaign to promote the availability of the new service.

Minister of State for Public Health, Wellbeing and the National Drugs Strategy, Frank Feighan, T.D., added: “I am delighted to be able to launch this new national service. It is an important step towards realising the vision of Healthy Ireland and of the National Sexual Health Strategy that everyone in Ireland experiences positive sexual health and wellbeing and has access to high quality sexual health information, education and healthcare services throughout life.

“The service allows individuals to test for STIs in the privacy of their own homes and is a further step in our ongoing policy of empowering our citizens to manage their own health, free of charge and without cost barriers, in line with the principles of Sláintecare.”

More information about the service is available at: www.sexualwellbeing.ie

Last updated on: 04 / 10 / 2022