Sexually transmitted infection (STI) rates have been skyrocketing for years, with more than 2.5 million infections reported in 2019, according to the latest available report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) . From 2015 to 2019, chlamydia cases increased by 20%, while gonorrhea cases increased by more than 50%. Unfortunately, the number of STI cases has grown since then as people’s ability to seek and receive screening and care for sexually transmitted infections (STIs) has been severely impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic.
With many people deferring STI testing or not having access to quality care, it is crucial to find ways to rebound screening rates and prevent potential sexual and reproductive health issues. Adding an at-home STI testing component to STI programs can help combat the overall decline in testing and potential missed cases. LetsGetChecked’s range of Sexual Health Tests can detect a number of common STDs and help those who may not otherwise receive screening to self-test for STIs.
The consequences of reduced STI screenings during the COVID-19 pandemic
Despite an artificial dip in STI rates during the COVID-19 pandemic, STI rates continue to rise in the United States while health funding is still being allocated to address the pandemic. Public health experts warn of a projected increase in infections resulting from sluggish STI testing. According to a survey of health department STD programs and disease intervention specialists by the National Coalition of STD Directors’ (NCSD), up to 78% diverted their STI workforces to monitor COVID-19 .
While the CDC recommended that STI clinics prioritize patients based on their symptoms and risk, many STIs have no signs or symptoms. A study in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine found that the pandemic caused significant declines in sexual health screenings for both men and women, resulting in potentially tens of thousands of missed cases of chlamydia and gonorrhea . Since the quickest way for people to spread STIs is by not knowing they have one, it is crucial to find new ways to rebound screening rates by increasing access to preventive care.
Benefits of at-home STI screenings for population health
Adding at-home screening options to public health STI programs can increase screening access, rebound screening rates that dropped during the pandemic, and even reduce the stigma that people experience when seeking care. Home tests can engage people outside the traditional care setting to combat low screening rates due to reductions in clinic hours, diversion of resources, and shortages of testing kits and staff. Home tests can meet people where they are so they can test from the comfort of home without having to wait for an appointment or have an on-site visit.
While the pandemic worsened the already worsening STI public health crisis, at-home screenings can help relieve some of the pressure from STI clinics and get screening rates back to normal. Implementing an at-home testing component to public health STI programs can combat the predicted spike in HIV and STI rates exacerbated by the pandemic. As people may be reluctant to seek STI testing for various reasons, from a lack of awareness to inconvenience, home testing kits can provide a convenient and private way to receive the care they need outside of the traditional clinical setting.
Rebound screening rates with LetsGetChecked’s at-home STI testing solutions
Regular STI testing is one of the most reliable ways for people to gain insight into their sexual health. Our at-home STI tests, including our Simple 2, Standard 5, and Complete 8, can test for a range of STIs such as chlamydia, gonorrhea, HIV, syphilis, trichomoniasis, gardnerella, mycoplasma, and ureaplasma. Home STI tests can simplify the screening process and drive better health outcomes. LetsGetChecked has experience working with national public health organizations to increase STI testing accessibility and meet their population’s unique needs.
Working with us is easy as we manage the distribution of test kits, reporting, and diving into data to provide strategic recommendations. No on-site appointments are necessary as each of our kits comes with detailed instructions on how to self-collect samples. The return process is also simple as we include a prepaid shipping label that allows people to return their collected samples to our laboratory. Our high complexity laboratory provides accurate and confidential results within days with our reporting services integrating seamlessly with public health department surveillance systems. We can expand the reach of your STI programs and help people access the convenient, affordable, and accurate screenings they need.