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The initiative is supported by the HSE and a number of sexual health organisations.
Welcoming today’s free service Minister of State for Health Promotion Marcella Corcoran Kennedy also warned of the need to stay vigilant.
“It is imperative that we all recognise the year round importance of safe sexual practice and regular testing,” said the Minister.
“I am really pleased to see the availability of free community based rapid HIV testing to mark World AIDS day. The WHO estimates that one third of people who are HIV positive are not aware of their HIV status.
“Having choice around where and how to avail of a HIV test is really important in reducing the number of people unaware of their HIV status.”
According to Fiona Lyons, Clinical Lead in Sexual Health with the Sexual Health and Crisis Pregnancy Programme, “access to HIV testing is a critical part of HIV prevention. Increasing choice and availability of HIV testing is important to reducing the barriers to testing and late diagnosis of HIV.
“Earlier diagnosis of HIV allows people to avail fully of the benefits of antiretroviral therapy. In addition, at a population level reducing the numbers of those with undiagnosed, untreated infection helps prevent further spread of HIV.”
Rapid HIV testing is taking place in Dublin, Cork and Limerick throughout the day at community settings.
A rapid HIV test involves a finger-prick which takes a small sample of blood and is applied to the test kit, the result is available in 60 seconds.