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Planned Parenthood releases STD home testing app



A swab of a gonorrhea strain.
A swab of a gonorrhea strain.
Nathan Reading/Flickr Creative Commons

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Under the Affordable Care Act, some women who visit an in-network provider can get preventive chlamydia and gonorrhea screenings, without having to pay a copayment or coinsurance or meet a deductible. The law also says that higher-risk men and women can get preventive counseling for sexually transmitted diseases at no extra cost.

But for many people, there are still barriers to getting an STD test.

"There's still a lot of embarrassment and shame" around the potential of having an STD, says Amy Rosenfeld, director of communications for Planned Parenthood Los Angeles. "People even delay getting treatment, or coming in to see a doctor, because of that stigma."

Testing at home

Planned Parenthood is trying to tackle that stigma with a new app called Planned Parenthood Direct™. The app, Rosenfeld says, is designed to make getting tested and treated for an STD more convenient and private. It launched this week in California.

Here's how it works: You download the app through the Android or Apple app store for free; for $149 you can order a home test for chlamydia and gonorrhea.

Rosenfeld says the testing supplies and prepaid mailing label arrive at your doorstep in a discreet box; you then send a urine sample to a Planned Parenthood lab. A few days later, your results will be available on the app.

If you've tested positive for chlamydia, the app prompts you to answer a couple of questions. Based on your responses, a Planned Parenthood doctor can send an electronic prescription to your local pharmacy. If you've tested positive for gonorrhea, you can go to a Planned Parenthood clinic for an antibiotic shot or seek care somewhere else. Both treatments could come with extra costs.

Other resources

Rosenfeld says the app stands out because it provides testing, and connects people to treatment, in a convenient and private manner. But it's not the first organization to digitalize this process.

In Los Angeles County, for example, women ages 12 to 25 can get a free home test kit for chlamydia and gonorrhea through the website DontThinkKnow.org. They can get their test results online or by calling 1(800) 758-0880. Those who test positive can then find care through a clinic locator on the website.

And as we reported last summer, apps like Healthvana allow people to request their STD test results with an iPhone app or online, and share them with potential partners.