Trinity College Dublin Students Union (TCDSU) is providing a free ‘HIV Testing Kit Service’ to all students who wish to avail of it as of yesterday afternoon. These kits are available to order via the tcdsu.org website.
The service is provided by HIV Ireland and funded by the Higher Education Authority (HEA), which has granted the SU the “short-term” supply of 500 BioSURE Rapid HIV testing kits.
In a statement to Trinity News, the SU said: “With the short term provision of 500 BioSURE Rapid HIV testing kits, we hope that Trinity Students will have better access to safe non-judgemental HIV screening without financial burden.”
“Kits are available to all students on the Island of Ireland,” the statement continued. “If you are not a Trinity student and are seeking a HIV Test, head to mpower.hivireland.ie to find out more and book a test.”
SU recommends that students who “have recently been exposed to HIV and are not currently on effective treatment” should seek emergency attention at St. James’s GUIDE sexual health clinic.
The SU also said that in the case of “exceptional circumstances (…) where a kit may be needed as soon as possible”, students are told to contact SU’s Welfare & Equality Officer Leah Keogh at [email protected].
The service will entail an optional and anonymous survey that will contribute to a joint report between TCDSU, HIV Ireland and the MPOWER project on HIV within College.
Having completed an application for the service, each applicant will receive a follow up questionnaire on the overall experience, and quality of the process two weeks later.
The tests are self-administered and take approximately 15 minutes to complete.
Explaining the results process, TCDSU said that “the result is described as ‘reactive’ rather than ‘positive’”.
“If you get a reactive result, it is possible that you have acquired HIV, but this needs to be confirmed at a clinic.”
The motion to “make free, rapid HIV testing accessible to all” was originally proposed by current SU President Eoin Hand and was passed by Council on March 2.
It was seconded by SU’s Communications and Marketing Officer Philly Holmes, who has been vocal about the “barriers faced by those seeking testing and diagnosis” during the pandemic because of Covid-19 restrictions. The Gay Men’s Health Service (GMHS) has been closed to the public since March of 2020, only providing a limited number of services such as PrEP medication.
Since the provision of the 500 kits by the HEA are short-term, “an endowment fund is to be established to provide free, rapid HIV testing kits for students in the long term”, with the funding also to come from the HEA.