Healthy Choices

Planned Parenthood app brings STD testing to your door

Individuals worried about their sexual health need look no further than their mailbox for discreet testing services, courtesy of a new smartphone app released in California by Planned Parenthood.

The Planned Parenthood Direct app, made available last week, is designed to make testing for sexually transmitted diseases more convenient and protect patient privacy, said Ana Sandoval, spokesperson for Planned Parenthood Affiliates of California. A similar app has been available in Minnesota and Washington for the past year, making California the third state to have access to the service.

“What we’ve found is with the app people are really looking for convenience,” Sandoval said. “There’s still stigma attached with the idea that you could have possibly contracted an STD. We work hard to try to eliminate that stigma.”

Planned Parenthood Direct is designed for young people who want the convenience of having the test delivered to their home instead of going to a clinic appointment, she added.

Android and iPhone users must be at least 17 to purchase the $149 app, which provides one home kit that tests for both gonorrhea and chlamydia, as well as a Planned Parenthood physician’s prescription for treatment if one or both tests are positive. From the app, the user can send a request for the kit, which arrives in the mail. The user sends back a urine sample in the provided container and receives a message within five to seven business days that their testing results are available.

After logging into the app, users who test positive for one or both diseases are given options for further treatment. Users with chlamydia must send a video verification via their smartphone to a Planned Parenthood physician, who will send the antibiotic prescription to the patient’s pharmacy. Users with gonorrhea must go to a local clinic for an injection. Both the injection and the antibiotic treatments must be paid for separately by the user.

STD testing, not including treatment, can cost an estimated $50-$200, depending on patient location and insurance coverage.

Chlamydia rates in Sacramento County increased 43 percent between 2003 and 2012 , and were 29 percent higher than California’s overall rate in 2012. Sacramento County had the third highest gonorrhea rate in California in 2012. Incidence rates for both diseases are higher among women than men, according to the most recent Sacramento County Community Health Status Report.

Young people ages 15 to 24 account for 65 percent of chlamydia cases in the state, according to the California Adolescent Health Collaborative.

Sammy Caiola: 916-321-1636, @SammyCaiola