Ireland’s first ever national strategy for sexual health has been launched, which aims to reduce the rapid rise of sexually transmitted infections.
The number of STI’s has increased by 279% between 1995 and 2013.
The Minister for Health Leo Varadkar launched the new strategy this morning, which aims to make sexual health services more available and affordable, and to improve education to prevent STI’s.
The new strategy also includes a pilot programme to offer free rapid HIV testing based in the community.
Tiernan Brady from Gay and Lesbian Equality Network (GLEN) has said it aims to remove any barriers to getting tested.
“The one thing we know is most people don’t look forward to having a HIV test, so we have to try and design programs that make it accessible, convenient for people and the rapid testing provides results in 30 seconds which means people can pop in, get their test, pop out,” Mr Brady said.
“It’s free and it is community based which means it is in a non clinical setting. And all of those are seen as barrier that prevent people from testing regularly so we are trying to get rid of all of those.”
Minister for Health Leo Varadkar has said it is important to show progress in the first two years.
"Dr Fiona Lyons is going to drive it forward, we have an action plan over the next two years, really outlining exactly what’s going to be done," Mr Varadkar said.
The strategy runs over six years but it is important it does not just sit around for six years that we actually deliver on key actions in the first two years."