The Irish Mail on Sunday

‘Do not trust online home test kits for sexual diseases’

- By Niamh Griffin

THE Irish Medicines Board has warned against certain home-testing kits for HIV and other sexually transmitte­d diseases being sold online.

The warning, sent to clinics, chemists and GPs, named four tests made by the firm Future Ventures, which the IMB said are not guaranteed to work.

It said: ‘The iCARE HIV 1&2, iCARE Syphilis, iCARE Gonorrhea and iCARE Chlamydia rapid screen selftest kits do not bear the CE mark, as required in Europe.’

Future Ventures could not be contacted by the Irish Mail on Sunday. An email sent to the firm did not receive a reply. An English postal address is listed on its website, but a call revealed this to be a real estate company. Staff working there did not know anything about the tests.

Doctors at two of the country’s busiest sexual health clinics warned such tests can mean illnesses go untreated.

Dr Derek Freedman, a consultant at St James’s Hospital’s Guide sexual health clinic, said: ‘These tests have been shown to be unreliable, giving false negative or false positive results.’

He said many of the internet tests cost the same as a consultati­on at a private clinic. The clinic at St James’s, as with all HSE clinics, is free.

He added: ‘By only doing one or two tests, other infections may be missed. People gain a false sense of security, which may lead them to pass on an infection.’

According to Dr Jack Lambert, director of the STI clinic at the Mater Hospital, some people buy such tests as they fear being seen visiting STI clinics.

‘I have people driving to see us from all over because they don’t want to be seen locally. Home testing is a good idea but only if it is properly regulated.

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