Frequently asked questions

Frequently asked questions about SH:24 Ireland, our home tests and ordering with us.

STI tests

SH:24 is a Community Interest Company (CIC). We work in close partnership with HSE's free public STI clinics across the country to offer the highest quality of sexual health advice, support and treatment.

Yes, you can. But your test will be more accurate if you do it on a lighter day of your period or if you wait until you've stopped bleeding.

Yes, you can. It will not affect the baby if you use a vaginal swab. And the tests are accurate and reliable during pregnancy.
It’s especially important to test for chlamydia during pregnancy. This infection can be passed to the baby at birth.

We cannot test for mpox (previously called monkeypox) with our kits. If you have any of these symptoms:

  • a high temperature

  • swollen lymph nodes - new lumps that appear on your neck, groin or under your arms

  • a spotty rash that’s similar to a chickenpox rash

contact your GP or local sexual health clinic. Make sure to talk to your surgery or clinic before you visit. They will be able to help you with testing and treatment.
Mpox is usually a mild infection that clears up on its own. It's spread by close contact, like touching a person who has the infection or being in contact with their clothes or bedsheets. Some men who have sex with men have been diagnosed with monkeypox after sexual contact. If you’re a man who has sex with men, then we recommend you stay alert to signs of this infection.

No. We currently test for chlamydia, gonorrhoea, syphilis and HIV.

If you'd like a test or treatment for bacterial vaginosis, we recommend you go to your local clinic.

Yes, we offer tests for both hepatitis B and C.
When you order an STI test you'll be asked some questions that help us understand your chances of having contact with hepatitis B or C. We use specialist clinical and local public health information to decide the possible risks.

We recommend visiting a clinic as soon as you can if:

  • you've been sexually assaulted

  • you're a man who has sex with men, and you had unprotected sex in the last 3 days with someone at high risk of passing on HIV

  • you have symptoms

  • you're under the age of 16

  • you're a woman, you've had unprotected sex in the past 5 days and you think you're at risk of being pregnant

We provide all users with tests for chlamydia, gonorrhoea, HIV and syphilis.

If you're not happy with testing for these 4 STIs, we recommend visiting your local free STI clinic for the test you want.

To test for 4 of the most common STIs we need some different samples from your body.
Which samples you need to give will depend on your gender, genitals and who you have sex with.
To check for chlamydia and gonorrhoea, you might be asked for

  • vaginal swab sample

  • anal swab sample

  • urine sample

  • throat swab sample

To check for syphilis and HIV:

  • a small blood sample

The tests that you’ll get in your kit are selected based on the information you give us when you order.

We've worked closely with the HSE Sexual Health and Crisis Pregnancy Programme to design a testing model using current best practice and guidance for STI testing.
If you’d like an oral or a rectal swab but you’re not offered one when you order, we might be able to help. Reply to any of our text messages and let us know. A member of our clinical team will take a look at your request. If we can’t help you directly, we’ll help you find a service near you that can.

Use the UN3373 return packaging included in the test kit to securely send your samples to our lab. This has our lab address label already attached and the postage has been prepaid.
This type of packaging is approved for transporting medical samples and will keep your samples safe.

Just put this package in any local postbox. There is no need to visit the post office.
If you haven’t got the UN3373 return packaging in your kit, let us know by replying to one of our text messages, or emailing us at sh24.info@nhs.net. Include your mobile number, date of birth and postcode, so we can find your order and organise new packaging to be sent to you.
Our lab cannot accept samples received in any other packaging.

You can send the swab or urine sample back to us separately from the blood sample. 

The lab will test your samples and we’ll text you if there are any problems. Make sure you use the packaging we’ve sent you when you post your samples back.

If you have 2 tests and you’d like to do them at different times to fit with your needs or with window periods (the time it takes between being exposed to an infection and when it’ll show up in a test), we can send you extra return packaging for the separate samples. If you need this, let us know before you take the samples. Just reply to one of our text messages. 

Or email us at sh24.info@nhs.net. Include your request and your mobile number, date of birth and postcode, so we can find your order and organise this for you.

STI test results

Our simple home STI test kits are highly accurate and reliable when you:

  • follow the instructions carefully

  • wait for the recommended window period before you test

  • do more tests in a clinic after a reactive result for HIV

Your samples are sent to our partner laboratory to be processed by specialist technicians. We use the same tests that many NHS and HSE clinics use.

The window period is the time it takes for an infection to show up in tests. This period starts from the time of your sexual health risk - when you think you may have been exposed to infection.

Most people are sent their results by text. In some cases, one of our clinicians will call you to talk about your results and treatment. We’ll always text you first to agree on a good time to speak.

If you lose your mobile phone after you’ve ordered a test kit, contact us right away.

Email us at sh24.info@nhs.net, include your name, date of birth and postcode, and your old mobile number, as well as a new mobile number if you have one. Or text us on 086 180 3107.

You do not need a smartphone to use our service. If you have a traditional handset our messages may be delivered to you in 2 or 3 parts, but you'll get the same information and the same level of service.

You can view our website and order a test kit on any mobile device, laptop or computer that's connected to the internet.

We work in partnership with local sexual health clinics to help you manage your sexual health. These clinics can access the information we have about you and your results so that they can help you with any care that needs a visit to a clinic.
This information is kept separate from your main medical record and we will never share information with your GP without your permission, unless there's a legal reason why we must do so.
You can read more about this in our terms and conditions.
Check our privacy policy for information on how we handle your personal data.
If it's important to you that your information is not shared with your local sexual health clinic, contact us on sh24.info@nhs.net and we will try to help.

If your test shows you have an infection, we'll text you and help you get treatment. A SH:24 clinician might call you to talk about your treatment. We’ll always text you first to agree a time to speak.

If you have an infection, you should tell all of your current partners and anyone you’ve had sex with in the last 6 months. 

They may have an STI without knowing it and could be passing it on to other people, so it’s important for them to be tested.

We know that this can be difficult. When you get treatment, SH:24 or your local sexual health clinic will be able to help you tell current and previous partners. If you want to do this anonymously, your partners will just be told they’ve had contact with an infection and should get a test.

If you’d like advice on how to talk to your partners, text us by replying to one of our text messages.

A reactive result is not a positive result. A reactive result means the test has reacted to something in your blood.

To diagnose HIV you need to do 3 different types of tests. If you go to a clinic and have blood taken, there’s enough in that blood sample to do all 3 tests. In a finger-prick blood sample done by an online service, there is only enough blood to do the first test. 

This first test is very sensitive. It picks up almost all HIV infections but it may also cross-react with other things in your blood.

If you have a reactive result then we’ll discuss this with you and organise for you to have a second blood sample taken in a clinic so that further tests can be done.

In many cases, the initial result is not confirmed and the final result will be negative.

We do not offer hard copy versions, emails or letters with test results, because we cannot confirm who has given the samples. Our test results cannot be used as official documentation of results.

Orders and delivery

Our order form is designed to be trans-inclusive, so you can choose the option that’s right for you. We ask for your gender and then ask if it matches the sex you were assigned at birth. We also ask about your genitals so we’re able to give you advice on which test kit will work best for you.

If your genitals don’t fit the cisgender definitions of male and female, or you are intersex, we can help you find the right tests, just email us at sh24.info@nhs.net.

Your test kit will be delivered by AnPost in a plain envelope. We don’t put ‘SH:24’ or ‘HSE’ on the outside of the envelope. It's sent by standard post, so you won't need to sign for it. And it will fit through your letterbox.

Our verification codes are sent as text messages, so first check that you have a phone signal on your mobile. 

If you’re still not receiving a code, then it’s most likely because of cookies stored in your browser. 

Before you start your order, try:

  • clearing the cookies in your browser

  • using the private/incognito mode in your browser

  • using a different browser

We also find that sometimes ordering on a different device can help. So try using your computer instead of your phone, or a tablet instead of your laptop. 

Make sure your browsers are not connected across devices. For example, if you’re signed into a Google account on both devices, try signing out.

Please allow up to 7 working days for your samples to be delivered to our lab, in case there are delays with the post.

You’ll get a text when your kit arrives at the lab and is scanned in. Once the kit has arrived, you’ll get your results by text within 72 hours.

Alternatively, if you:

  • did not post back your samples in the UN3373 medical sample return packaging that was in your testing pack

  • think it’s been over 7 working days since you posted your samples

  • are worried that you’re not receiving our text messages

then you can reply to one of our texts and let us know, or email us at sh24.info@nhs.net. Include your mobile number, date of birth and postcode so we can look into this for you.

To cancel your order, let us know by replying to one of our text messages, or you can email us at sh24.info@nhs.net. Include your mobile number, postcode and date of birth. This helps us find your order.

If your order has already been sent, we will not be able to cancel it. It might reassure you to know that our kits are discreetly packaged and sent through AnPost. They don’t need to be signed for and they have no mention of SH:24 or the HSE on the outside.

If you’ve entered the address incorrectly, the kit will be returned to our distribution centre.

If you get a testing kit but don’t want to use it right now, you can keep our kit for many months and use it at a time that suits you. You’ll be able to find an expiry date on the sample tubes and swabs. As long as you use the test before this date, it will be valid.

To update your details, reply to one of our texts or email us on sh24.info@nhs.net and let us know what needs changing.

Include your old number or address, your name and date of birth, as well as the new number or address. We can then update this for you on our systems.

You can also text or email to let us if you need us to resend your test results to a new number.