Remember in the movie Mean Girls when Coach Carr during sex ed scares the bejesus out of students by telling them if they do it you will get Chlamydia and die!
It’s an easy subject to make a laughing matter.. but in all reality we’ve got a serious epidemic.
In fact the CDC reports there are 19 million new cases of sexually transmitted diseases every year.. half of those are among 15-24 year olds.
As the problem gets bigger and technology gets better new strategies to fight STDS are evolving. Users are sharing and texting their results with partners and even using apps to ask a doctor about what they might have.
When it comes to dating in DC a successful 20-something Kerry tells me it’s fun but she takes her sexual health seriously.
She says “It’s something I think about a lot and want to make sure I’m taking the steps I can to be an advocate for my own health.”
When it comes to talking about STD testing with a partner… it can be real awkward but Kerry finds it easier theses days. Showing me an app on her phone she says “My results pop up on my screen and I can show that to my partner.”
Kerry uses a site called Qpid.me. Here you can request your STD results from your doctor and share them with a partner via text or email.
It’s a new way to reach a young mobile population.. a group that’s a big part of a growing epidemic.
Other sites and apps positioning themselves as public health tools include inSPOT which allows you to send an anonymous postcard to a past sexual partner with your status. And new APP STD Triage lets you submit a photo of a troubled area and a doctor will write back with potential diagnoses.
I found while proponents of this app say it empowers people to get to know their results it also raises some privacy concerns. When you get your results from your provider even when it’s sent to your personal phone… there’s no guarantee that information is protected by law.
I met with Dr. Jane Hyatt Thorpe who is with the Department of Public Health at George Washington University to talk about the risks of requesting your records.
Hyatt-Thorpe says “I think consumers need to think about once I have that information once I authorized an organization to have that info and send it to others you really do lose control over your information.”
She adds providers may be slow to respond due to busy workflows and inability to keep up with social trends.
Kerry says privacy hasn’t been an issue but getting clinics to comply has. She’s received responses back as fast as a day from some while others… she’s still waiting on. By law, providers have up to 30 days to send your results and they have the right to charge.
For Kerry she’s just glad that this is an option to open up about something that is typically taboo.
“Especially people who talking about sexual health doesn’t come as easily this is a really exciting opportunity to bring that up in a way that feels comfortable.”