As we've noted before, San Francisco is a hotbed of sexually transmitted diseases, and it's not just because we aren't regularly using condoms. It's also because we aren't regularly getting tested for STDs.
But Bay Area health departments are making it so that you really have no excuse to not get tested; this week they launched a pilot home STD testing program, which means you don't have to go any further than your own bathroom to find out if you have chlamydia, gonorrhea, or trichomoniasis.
Researchers haven't pinned down the exact reasons for the rise in STDs in our fair city, but Susan Philip, director for the San Francisco STD Prevention and Control Department, says she hopes this new testing service will help detect and treat diseases before it's too late.
"You can test for STDs in the middle of the night, if you wanted to, in the comfort of your own home, and just mail it out the next day," Phillip explained.
The demonstration study is calling for 400 Bay Area women, ages 18-30
who live in Alameda, San Francisco, Contra Costa, or San Mateo
counties. This demographic is being surveyed first because of the
success of a similar project in Los Angeles, however they do
plan to expand the pilot program to include men and transgender individuals,
Philip told us.
The first 400 eligible women who sign up on Iknowsf.org will receive a home-testing kit that includes a plastic tube with
a cotton swab attached to the cap. The kit will be shipped directly to your home. Swab an inch inside the opening of the vagina a few times and you're done. You mail the
tube with a prepaid envelope to a testing lab, and wait five days for your results.
Since sexually active women are recommended to get screened for STDs once a year, home testing saves time and clinic costs. Of course, women experiencing symptoms ranging from excessive discharge, burning when urinating, and back pain should really go see a doctor, health officials say. These diseases, if left untreated, could result in infertility or Pelvic Inflammatory Disease.
The program also incorporates e-prescriptions, online doctor-prescribed treatment that can be picked up at a pharmacy.
If maintaining good health wasn't enough of an incentive, there's always the monetary bribe. Participants will
receive a $20 Amazon gift card after filling out a follow-up survey. You should probably use that money to stock up on condoms.