At-home STI tests might seem like a good idea — they don't require health insurance or departure from the privacy and comfort of one's home. They're convenient and could be more cost-effective than a trip to the doctor's office. But which at-home STI tests are best?
Certainly some are better than others, and we should note that all at-home STI tests are more subject to human error than are screenings conducted by medical professionals — in part because the average abode is not equipped to function as a lab, and said medical professionals are trained.
According to NBC News, some of the companies that sell these at-home STI kits have proved to be unreliable, sketchy and not necessarily to be trusted when it comes to test result accuracy. Whether it's a false positive or a false negative, getting the wrong diagnosis on an STI screening can mean miserable things for your health, both reproductive and mental. The benefits of having an expert on hand are not to be underestimated.
So, anyone worried about their genital state should see a doctor. STIs can be dangerous if left untreated, and considering that some 19.7 million new STI diagnoses are made annually — on top of the estimated 110 million cases already in existence — an accurate read on one's bill of health is more than recommended. But if getting to a doctor immediately is out of the question, these at-home STI kits are more trustworthy than others.
Planned Parenthood Online STI Testing
For residents of California, Idaho, Minnesota and Washington state, online STI testing is available from Planned Parenthood, one of the many services the health clinic provides. The kits include detailed instructions and a pre-paid envelope so users can take their samples and mail them back for Planned Parenthood to test in its labs. The organization then delivers results and provides support for patients who need it.
This California-based company was founded in 2013 and aims to provide a better at-home testing product that works for both men and women. MyLab Box offers tests for HIV, chlamydia, gonorrhea, trichomoniasis and extragenital complaints; users order the test of their choosing (or a combo pack) and receive it by mail.
The STI tests take minutes to complete and, after the samples are shipped back, results usually arrive in two to five days. MyLab Box cautions that most online STI tests are not to be trusted and are unregulated by the FDA. MyLab Box either uses FDA-approved screening methods or those that have been approved by a lab affiliate. The company uses labs certified by the standards of the Clinical Laboratory Improvement Amendments and has trained counselors on hand to walk users through positive results.
This site allows visitors to order 10-panel tests that screen for all the major STIs and states that its methods are FDA-approved. STDcheck.com is reportedly the only online source for hepatitis A testing. Users do have to leave their homes — tests are performed at one of more than 4,000 centers across the country — but can get screened on the same day that they place their orders. The procedure is quick and results arrive in one to two days. Results aren't registered on the patient's medical records, but if they're positive, STDcheck.com offers a free doctor's consultation.
OraQuick: In-Home HIV Test
OraQuick is the only FDA-approved at-home oral HIV test on the market, available online and in many drugstores. Users run the swab provided in the test kit over their gums and get results within 20 minutes. Because a positive result is particularly grave when it comes to HIV, for which there's no cure, OraQuick offers a 24/7 support hotline to help patients get the care and counseling they need.