This time last year, Yeah! Magazine was passing Pantibar just off Dublin’s north quays when we noticed there were HIV tests being offered inside. We talked to Rory O’Neill (aka PantiBliss) for a few moments – who was kind enough to give a few moments of his time – and he directed us to Adam Shanley of the Know Now project. Interview below.
What role do you have at Know Now and has it affected your own attitude towards HIV and STDs?

Photo 30-09-2015, 10 28 33 a.m.I am the Manager of the Know Now Rapid HIV testing project. I have always had a keen interest in HIV and STI testing and awareness and have been working in the area of LGBT+ activism for the last number of years. As HIV continues to soar, men who have sex with men are disproportionately affected. The best way for people to stop onward transmission of HIV is to know their status by getting a HIV test. Some people experience different barriers to accessing testing. For example, some find speaking to doctor in a clinical setting about their sex lives to be a difficult thing to do, others might find cost to be a barrier or the week long wait for a result might put them off. These are all things that the Know Now project aims to alleviate.

How is the project funded? Is there a web presence where people can donate to the service?
Know Now is a project funded through a grant from the National Lottery Fund via the Department of Health. A website is at http://www.knownow.ie/.
Has it been rolled out yet to other parts of Ireland?

Know Now is available in Dublin, Cork & Limerick at present. 

 How is the test so fast, with results in a matter of hours?

Technology around HIV testing has come a long way in recent years. A test that previously could only be offered in a clinical lab with a result taking two weeks is now as easy and as fast (if not faster) than a pregnancy test. The tests look for your body’s response to HIV and not the actual virus itself. This is known as an antibody test. Shortly after exposure to HIV a person begins to make antibodies. After a number of weeks there is a sufficient amount of antibodies for a test to make an accurate diagnosis of HIV infection. 

 Is the service available to everyone? Are there disqualifying criteria, either in terms of citizenship or orientation?
The service is aimed primarily at men who have sex with men, however we will not turn away anyone interested in knowing their HIV status. Recent data on new reported HIV infections in Ireland show that there is an increasing number of Latin American men with HIV – we would encourage all sexually active men who have sex with men to test at least twice a year. Know Now is a quick and convenient way to do so.
Follow Adam Shanley on Twitter here.
To apply or inquire about volunteering for the Know Now HIV project, you can navigate to this link.