Paternity, STD test kits offer what doctors can’t: privacy

Identigene, the first company to bring at-home paternity test kits to retail, recently launched another trailblazing at-home test kit: Identigene’s STD test.

The new test kit—which tests for the two most prominent bacterial STDs, chlamydia and gonorrhea, and retails for $19.99—represents an appealing option for consumers, many of whom are hesitant to discuss STDs with their doctors. For example, in a three-year study of 500 women published earlier this year in Obstetrics & Gynecology, of the participants who received free birth control, free STD testing and free STD treatment, more than 40% of the women in the study did not follow through on an annual screening for chlamydia and gonorrhea.

“Consumers are becoming more comfortable purchasing all manner of healthcare products in pharmacies,” noted Steve Smith, Identigene director of marketing. “We see four key drivers of this trend,” he said, including a shortage in family care physicians, the prominence of uninsured and under-insured consumers, and a growing realization among consumers that prevention costs less than treatment. In addition, Smith noted that the burgeoning retail clinic business within retail pharmacy is creating awareness among consumers that pharmacy is a destination for healthcare solutions.

According to another survey of 302 women presented before the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s 2010 National STD Prevention Conference earlier this year, women—who have a greater risk for STDs as compared with men—were uncomfortable seeking STD testing from a male healthcare provider (88%). Almost two-thirds of the women reported anxiety about testing, and 31% reported concern about STD results appearing in their medical records.

And while a diagnostic test often is required to detect chlamydia and gonorrhea, one-third of women believed that these infections could be diagnosed solely by visual inspection, and one-quarter thought that a Pap smear could detect either STD.

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