FAQ STI/HV Testing, Treatment and Support

You should be tested if:

  • you have any symptoms which suggest an STI
  • your partner has an STI
  • you have a new sexual partner
  • you have more than one sexual partner

How would I know if I had an STI?

You may not know if you have an STI, so it is important to be tested.

You may not have any symptoms, or the symptoms can be easy to miss. Even when you don’t notice any symptoms, you can still pass an STI to a sexual partner.

The only way to really know if you have an STI, is to be tested. Your partner should also be tested.

Visit a GP, pharmacist or an STI clinic for professional advice if you think you have an STI.

For more information on STIs visit sexualwellbeing.ie

STI and HIV testing is available in many healthcare settings including STI clinics, GPs and student health clinics. Charges may apply.

All STI testing in public sexual health or GUM (genito-urinary medicine) clinics is provided free of charge. Click here for a list of public STI services available. STI testing is also available through many GPs, NGOs or student health services for a fee.

The type of test will depend on your symptoms.

For men, you will be asked to give a urine sample into a small bottle. Men should not urinate (pee) for two hours before giving a urine sample. Sometimes a swab is used to take a sample from inside the top of the penis. This will depend on what your symptoms are and will be explained to you by the doctor or nurse seeing you.

Sometimes swabs will also be taken from your throat or anus (back passage).

A swab is like a cotton bud.

For women, a swab is taken from the vagina. This can be done by the doctor or nurse and sometimes by yourself.

Women and men will also have blood tests to check for viral or bacterial infections.

If you test positive for an STI, you will be offered treatment. You can pass on STIs to your sexual partner (or partners) if you are not treated for an STI infection.

It is also important to tell the people you have recently been in sexual contact with so that they can be tested for STIs and treated. Your doctor or nurse will discuss this topic. You will have to wait until you have completed STI treatment before having sex again. Your doctor or nurse will explain more.

  • having sex without a condom (vaginal or anal) with someone who is HIV positive and not on effective HIV treatment
  • very rarely through oral sex without a condom with someone who is HIV positive and not on effective HIV treatment
    (this risk is extremely low)
  • sharing needles or works (injecting equipment) with someone who is HIV positive and not on effective HIV treatment
  • during pregnancy, delivery or breastfeeding from mother-to-baby where the mother is not on effective HIV treatment
  • contaminated blood products (very unlikely in Ireland as all donors are tested)

You cannot get HIV from:

  • touching, hugging or kissing
  • coughing or sneezing
  • sharing a glass, cup, cutlery or other utensils
  • saliva, sweat or urine
  • sharing a public toilet

To be tested find the nearest HIV clinic now

Some people get a flu-like illness when they first become infected with HIV. If you have these symptoms after a potential exposure to HIV, you should go for a HIV test.

Many people are often unaware that they’re infected because they may not feel sick right away or for many years after being infected with HIV. Find out more how do you can and cannot get HIV.

If you have been at risk of getting HIV, it is important to get tested.


To be tested find the nearest HIV clinic now

A blood test is used to diagnose whether you have HIV. All STI clinics offer HIV testing. Some GPs provide HIV testing or can arrange for you to have a test. 


To be tested find the nearest HIV clinic or a GP clinic now

You can reduce your risk of getting HIV by:

  • using condoms every time you have vaginal or anal sex
  • not sharing sex toys, or using condoms if you do
  • not sharing needles or other injecting equipment, including spoons, filters and water
  • taking post-exposure prophylaxis (PEP) if you have been exposed to HIV
  • taking pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) if you are at substantial risk
  • getting tested and knowing your HIV status

To be tested find the nearest HIV clinic 

To get PEP find the nearest HIV clinic

PEP is a course of medication that you need to start up to 72 hours (3 days and nights) after you have been exposed to HIV. PEP reduces the chance of you becoming HIV positive.

If you think you have been put at risk of getting HIV you should go to your nearest STI clinic as soon as possible (or to a hospital emergency department out of clinic hours) to see if you need to go on PEP.

To get PEP find the nearest HIV clinic or  Emergency Department  now

PrEP stands for pre-exposure prophylaxis. PrEP is taken by HIV negative people before having sex (pre-exposure) and after sex, to prevent HIV (this is called prophylaxis).

PrEP has been shown in many studies to be safe and highly effective at preventing HIV. When taken correctly PrEP has been found to be about 99% effective.

PrEP is the newest HIV prevention tool available and is best used in combination with other HIV prevention measures.

PrEP is available through the HSE free of charge to those who are considered to be at substantial risk of contracting HIV through sex.

If you attend a private clinic/GP, the PrEP drugs are free if you are clinically eligible for PrEP, but you might have to pay for consultation, tests and other fees.


Find more information on PrEP (Polish

To get PrEP find the nearest clinic now  

HIV can be treated effectively with medications. HIV treatment stops HIV reproducing in the body. When taken properly, HIV treatment enables most people with HIV to live a long and healthy life.

When taken properly, HIV treatment also reduces the chance of a person living with HIV passing HIV on to someone else. When a person living with HIV takes their treatment properly, so that they achieve and maintain an undetectable viral load, there is effectively no risk that HIV can be passed on to their sexual partners. Find out more information HIV 

HIV treatment in Ireland is free and is currently available in nine hospital settings.


To get treatment find the nearest HIV clinic now