We want to save sex lives one test at a time. As soon as someone begins to have sex they become our customer. Despite efforts of officials and institutions to hold screening events, open free clinics, and prescribe doctors screen their patients, the prevalence of sexually transmitted infections is on the rise. This is amazing to me because bacterial infections, like Chlamydia and Gonorrhea, generally speaking, are easily cured with antibiotics. Why are these diseases not eradicated? The answer: people do not get cured of a disease when they are not aware that they need treatment. Our goal is to address reasons that prevent people from getting tested so that our customer can avoid complications of a long term untreated infection and so they can avoid infecting someone they like. Here are the top 5 reasons as to why 1 in 2 people fail to get tested.
The first is education. If you don’t know that you are at risk, then you won’t get tested. The quality of sexual education varies from region to region. From what we have surveyed, most developed countries do teach about HIV and how it is contracted. Education about Chlamydia and Gonorrhea is less consistent. While you may receive comprehensive sexual education in Brazil that starts in preschool, you won’t be taught about these highly contagious and prevalent infections in Germany. Not only does the quality of education vary regionally, it can also vary temporally. As we see in the United States, funding for sex education of schools is positively related to the the prevalence of new HIV cases. With the emergence of amazing preventative HIV medication, sex education amount of funding is likely going to be cut United States. And this directly affects the time and content of the education received. For older populations that matured before the AIDS crisis, the only sex education they received was from their parents, which was close to none. This population, leaving committed relationships now that their kids are grown, make their debut into dating with poorer information than their kids. While we may not be able to educate the world, we have a sex educator on staff, and we are currently designing online content to so our customers can have clear unbiased information about STIs and other sex education tips about how to do sex right and with consent.
The second is confidentiality. Sexual health is different that other aspects of health because it involves what we do with our cloths off with someone else. For most people, sexual intimacy is private and most people would prefer it to stay that way on the giving and receiving end. Although the Sex Revolution happened 50 years ago and we have movies such as 50 Shades of Grey topping box office charts, sex is still steeped in stigma and that stigma concerns the fun parts of sex. The embarrassing parts about sex are barely mentioned. Rarely do we find someone who talks with their closest friends about sexually transmitted infections. The people that should be informed about our sexual health, health care professionals, do not always have the best bedside manner and their personal opinions are not always kept confidential. I continue to hear stories of people being shamed at the clinic for their behaviors or orientation. Not to mention, opening up to a primary care doctor that someone has had since childhood, can feel very similar to opening up to parents about sexual health. There is also the aspect of mandated reporting for certain transmitted infection. While, doctors and nurses are required by law to keep patient information confidential, in some regions, when there is positive test, names of previous lovers are taken down and the person being tested is reported to the health authorities. And then there are those that are worried about being spotted going into the clinic, like this is an immoral act in itself. Maybe that is why we still see pregnancy tests for sale at pharmacies in countries where the test is free at the clinic. When you test yourself, it is on your terms and you choose who you tell.
The third is that taking time to go to a clinic is inconvenient. If there are symptoms, the normal thing to do is make an appointment, wait for that date to come around, and wait at least an hour at the clinic. If there are positive results, often a return visit to the clinic is necessary to pick up the prescription. While this works, it is really inconvenient and imagine telling your boss that you need to go to the doctor when you don’t look sick. If you are a professional, you may be able to take off with no notice, but most people work jobs where there is much more scrutiny concerning time taken off, no matter the reason. Anyone who has worked in the service industry can relate to this. Our device will be available online and in the local pharmacy, grocery store, and even gas station, so anyone can buy our test device for themselves and a friend without having to take time off.
The fourth reason is that there is often no symptoms. Chlamydia and other common sexually transmitted infections often do not have symptoms or the symptoms resolve on their own, but the infection stays present. When there is no indication that we have caught something except risky behavior from the night before, it is easy to convince ourselves that there is nothing wrong. Many women neglect symptoms as being due to the many other issues that arise with having a vagina. This is why there are more and more stories about STIs popping up in committed relationships. While couples drop condom use after committing to each other, clearing out the past lover’s gifts may not be in plans and maybe too embarrassing to bring up. Sadly, these shared infections are often blamed on unfaithful behavior, rather than the failure of basic screening for STI’s between new and old sexual partners. Nagging worry is bothersome, but is it enough to make an appointment?
And the fifth, and most tragical, is that some people do not have access to clinics. This may surprise readers who live in large cities around the world. Limited access to healthcare screening is not limited low resource settings in rural Africa or South America. If you live in Louisiana, USA, your nearest clinic may be a 90 minute drive. And this situation is getting worse for Americans, as the current administration continues to cut funding to not for profit clinics that lead to closures. For people who lack access to clinics, even with perfect knowledge and desire, they are left to hope that they are healthy. Fortunately, our test will be available online wherever Amazon delivers. So no one will be left to worry and can have their peace of mind despite their distance from a clinic.
Getting tested or screened can can be invasive or inconvenient, but we wanted to address another issue for our customers, the wait. For any reader who has taken the time to go to a clinic knows the joy of waiting for the phone call. It is a week. Depending on your healthcare professional protocol, you may be waiting for a call or hoping for no call. In either case, you wait seven days in panic each time your phone rings in anticipation of the guilty verdict. This always racks my nerves, even if the fair reader is a stoic. We improved on the current clinic technology to overcome this wait and the phone call, by designing our device so that you can reliably test yourself and have your peace of mind and results in 30 minutes or less.
With all this self-testing, is there a way to self treat? Indeed, if you live in the UK or the USA, you will be able to call our doctor hotline and get hooked up with some sage advice and an ePrescription, so that you can get treated with never having to go into a clinic. This infrastructure trend is likely to expand to your neighborhood, soon. If you happen to not be in these regions, we will work with clinicians to educate them about our test, so you’ll only need to stop by once to your local healthcare professional or maybe just call them for a follow-up on a positive test.
Do you have sex education in school? Have you been screened for STIs? If not, we’d like to know why. We are making this test for a person like you. Contact us, share your story, and help us make the best personal health screen.