Last week, healthcare startup Medcinity launched an at-home screening service for sexually transmitted infections called GetTested that aims to make the diagnostic process less of a pain (and an embarrassment). For $199, you get a kit in the mail with tools to take a vaginal swab or urine sample and a blood sample and mail it to a lab. When your results are ready, you can view them online. The test screens for gonorrhea, chlamydia, syphilis, genital herpes, HIV, hepatitis C, and trichomoniasis.
This actually isn't the first kit of its kind. Planned Parenthood, Boston Microfluidics, and several other companies offer at-home STI testing. One poll by the app Wing found that 35 percent of Millennials have tried an at-home STI test. But are they effective?
STI tests down without any professional supervision are more prone to errors in collecting, handling, and storing the sample, explains Jennifer Wider, M.D. "Most homes are not equipped in the same way medical labs are, and most people aren't trained medical professionals." The plus, of course, is that you don't need to make a doctor's appointment, so you can often get your results more quickly and easily, without having to actually tell another human you might have an STI — though there shouldn't be any shame in doing that. However, you should check with your doctor before selecting an at-home kit, because some are more well-researched than others. It's usually better, for example, to get one that's FDA-approved, like those from MyLab Box, STDcheck.com, and Planned Parenthood.
Even though at-home STI testing can work, "getting a false positive or false negative on an STI test is not fun," Wider warns. "Some STIs are asymptomatic — you show no symptoms — so you need to rely on an accurate diagnosis. With the kits, there's more of a potential for inaccurate results." Sexual health researcher Robyn Charlery White, Ph.D., explains: "Some risks involved with at-home screening include damaged or expired kits, human error in testing and misdiagnoses due to lab or testing error." And if you do test positive, may be easier to deal with those results if you have a professional there to tell you what they mean.
Plus, you don't want to have to go through that kind of scare in the first place if you don't actually have an STI. According to the Mayo Clinic, if you get a positive result from an at-home test, you should get tested again at the doctor's office or a clinic to confirm it, since the false positive rate is especially high.
And, of course, at-home tests won't get you treatment. They're just the first step toward figuring out if you need it. Then, you need to discuss your results with a doctor.
So if you're really in a bind—away from your normal doctor or somewhere you can't get to a clinic—the tests might be worth trying. But considering that in most cases, you'll need to head to a doctor anyway, it might be smarter just to go straight there.
Date Posted: Thursday, September 29th, 2016 , Total Page Views: 1437
Like what you're reading? Please help us continue providing you with informative and thought provoking stories by becoming a supporter of Moorenews.net