CALIFORNIA: Trying Out Free, and Anonymous, Tests for STDs”

CALIFORNIA:   “Trying Out Free, and Anonymous, Tests for STDs”
San Francisco Chronicle     (04.28.12):: Erin Allday

On April 17, a pilot project began that allows women ages 18-30 in four Bay Area counties to test themselves at home for certain STDs free of charge. Through the website, women can order test kits for chlamydia, gonorrhea, and trichomoniasis. The kits, delivered in plain white envelopes, contain a cotton swab, collection container, and instructions on taking a sample.

A few days after sending the sample to Johns Hopkins University (JHU) for analysis, the women will receive a text or e-mail notice saying their results are available online. Those testing positive will be able to get an online prescription for treatment, which they can have filled at the pharmacy of their choice. They also may be advised to seek additional testing for HIV or other STDs. The entire process should take 10-14 days.

Working with the research group RTI International, Alameda, Contra Costa, San Francisco, and San Mateo counties plan to sign up 400 women before stopping enrollment to analyze results. Each county will evaluate the data, with health officials focusing on feasibility, demand, and cost-effectiveness.

Similar efforts are underway in Baltimore and Los Angeles. Ten percent of 400 test kits received in Baltimore showed positive results for chlamydia, a JHU study found, and 95 percent of the infected women sought treatment.