Mater Dei’s GU Clinic is currently trialing the use of point-of-care testing for HIV and syphilis but they still need around 600 more applicants, all of whom must be men who have sex with men, to help them out.
Point-of-care testing, or POC tests, are rapid-response tests that allow for patients to retrieve results from blood samples within a shorter time than what it would normally take.
Currently, the GU clinic asks patients to call back for test results within one to two weeks. But an effort between Mater Dei and the World Health Organisation is seeking to prove the efficacy of these new testing methods and eventually introduce them to Malta’s hospitals.
POC tests are quick and easy to do and some even offer results within 20 minutes. Mater Dei is hoping to trial these tests on another 600 men who have sex with men, not specifically gay men only.
As HIV rates in Malta rose by a staggering 50% in 2018 and the country was confirmed as having the second-highest rate of Syphilis in the EU over the summer, tensions still wary over the conditions of allowing gay men to donate blood and the need for more staff within the GU clinic itself, the trials come at a time of potential reforms within the department.
There are a total of two projects currently set up to assist the studies of these tests in Malta, one targeting their use for HIV and Syphilis and the other for Chlamydia and Gonorrhea.
The requirements for those interested in applying to help with the tests, irrelevant of their current HIV or Syphilis status, are simple: you must fall into the category of men who have sex with men, you must be over 18 and you must not have been previously trialled in the same projects.
It is understood that gay men in Malta cannot donate blood without being celibate for a period fo 12 months. With more efficient blood testing at our disposal, who’s to say we won’t soon see this shorten?
Anyone who wishes to take part may kindly email their contact details to [email protected] or call Mater Dei’s GU Clinic for more information.