A study from the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine found that Londoners were almost two times as likely to get tested for sexually transmitted infections when given the option to mail in test samples instead of visiting walk-in clinics.
Unfortunately, there’s still a lot of shame that exists around STIs, and until we can talk about these issues more openly, having the privacy to test yourself from your own home can at least hopefully prevent the spread of infection. Researchers were already expecting that e-STI testing would be popular, but they also wanted to get rid of the perception that it’s just for “high-flying executives” aka people who don’t have the time to visit clinics in person.
Paula Baraitser, co-author of the studio and sexual health researcher at King’s College London, wanted to convey that effective e-STI testing can be readily available to the average Londoner. Study participants were found in two low-socioeconomic boroughs and scouted from streets, markets, pubs, and other places people ages 16-30 were likely to be hanging out in. Participants were then offered the option of testing for STIs via e-STI testing or via walk-in clinic and, six weeks later, the researchers asked people if they had gotten tested. They found that 50 percent of people followed through on e-STI testing but only 26.6 percent used local clinics.
All in all, almost twice as many people got tested because of receiving information about e-testing alongside other methods. The study was also about demonstrating that e-STI testing is just as effective as walking into a clinic. “These are not separate services,” Baraitser told Tonic. “It’s just a different modality of care, and if more people knew about it, we could increase access to this service.”