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article imageInternet-testing for sexually transmitted infections success

By Tim Sandle     Jan 1, 2018 in Health
London - For those worried about the possibility of having contracted a sexually transmitted disease but worried about a visit to a clinic, a digital service might be the answer. Such services are proving increasingly popular.
Popularity is growing, at least by the standards of a trial scheme in London. A new report shows Internet-based testing for sexually transmitted infection has doubled the testing uptake in several South London boroughs. The report is the first U.K. study to compare the effect of access to Internet-based venereal diseases testing with the conventional health model of face-to-face appointments.
The conclusion from the study conducted by the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine is that by providing Internet-based testing for sexually transmitted infections, this type of service could increase the number of people being tested for such ailments as syphilis, HIV, chlamydia and gonorrhea. This would also be of particular benefit for high-risk groups.
A sample of human urine
A sample of human urine
More than 30 different bacteria, viruses, and parasites can be transmitted through sexual activity. Some diseases show symptoms, but many do not making the risk of transfer greater. It is estimated, based on the latest available figures (2015), that 1.1 billion people had sexually transmitted infections other than HIV.
To tackle the rise in such diseases new strategies in health policy are needed and one such approach is going digital. The new study shows how testing uptake was almost doubled in a group that was invited to use internet-accessed disease testing (termed e-STI testing); this was compared to a group which was invited to use existing services at health clinics. The subjects were allowed to select any other service or intervention during the study period.
The Internet service involved people applying for home test kits on-line and posting the completed test kits back. Results were then sent back to the individual suing a method of their choosing: e-mail, text or post.
Commenting on this, lead researcher Dr. Emma Wilson said: "E-STI testing is currently being implemented in the UK as one measure to meet increasing demand for sexually transmitted infection testing, but there is surprisingly little evidence on whether it successfully encourages uptake."
She added: " Our study, the first of its kind, aimed to investigate the effectiveness of e-STI testing for syphilis, HIV, chlamydia and gonorrhea."
The new research has been published in the journal PLOS Medicine, with the paper titled "Internet-accessed sexually transmitted infection (e-STI) testing and results service: A randomised, single-blind, controlled trial."
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