Free at-home STI testing now available nationwide

Minister Stephen Donnelly said scheme is ‘one of the most important innovations’ in sexual health care

People across the Republic of Ireland are now able to access free sexually transmitted infection test kits at home.

The Health Service Executive had previously run a pilot scheme in early 2021 for individuals living in Dublin, Cork and Kerry. The service was temporarily suspended after one day due to overwhelming demand.

In July of that year, the scheme was temporarily continued and expanded to other counties to improve STI testing capacity in light of ongoing Covid-19 restrictions.

On Tuesday, the HSE announced the scheme has been extended nationwide for people aged 17 and older.


Individuals wanting to avail of a free STI testing kit can request one on the online platform, which is then delivered to their home by post.

Users complete the tests at home and post the samples to the laboratory in the prepaid 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.

Between January and the end of August 2022, 55,936 STI test kits have been ordered with 3,516 (10.1 per cent) reactive STI test results.

Minister for Health Stephen Donnelly 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,” he said.

“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, the HSE’s clinical lead for sexual health said increasing the availability of the online STI testing service being rolled out nationally is an “important step” towards increasing 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,” she added.

Maeve O’Brien, interim programme lead for the HSE sexual health and crisis pregnancy programme said the initiative brings the country closer to achieving the national strategy, which seeks 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.”

Shauna Bowers

Shauna Bowers

Shauna Bowers is a reporter for The Irish Times