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STD Home Testing: Should You Trust it?

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should you trust an STD home test?

You may be concerned that you have a sexually transmitted disease (STD) but you're uncomfortable about going to a doctor. If you search the Web, there are a number of sites that offer home testing. But are they reliable? Are they approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA)?

According to Wisegeek.com, at-home STD testing is unlikely to be as accurate as those done in a doctor’s office. The accuracy may be affected by errors in how you collect the sample, or problems due to the storage and handling of the sample, if it is mailed back to the lab.

There is no way to know if the lab meets the same stringent standards that known labs use. All these things could lead to false negatives.

Additionally, many STD results should be discussed with a doctor at the time the result is returned from the lab so you can receive proper treatment. This may or may not be available to you from the testing lab.

In July 2012, the FDA did approve a home-HIV testing using an oral swab manufactured by OraSure Technologies.

The OraQuik test can be read in 20 minutes. It costs $40 and has an accuracy rate of 93 percent for true positive results according to the New York Times, though true negatives are almost 100 percent accurate.

There is an 800-phone number for people to call to discuss the results of their test. OraSure staff are able to refer callers to doctors via their zip code for followup.

According to a study by Grasek et. al., “the U.S. FDA has not approved any chlamydia/gonorrhea assay for home-collected samples.” They went on to say that it would be a prudent move for the FDA to require regulatory approval of at-home testing since results can be unreliable.

NBC.com reported that some of the online labs don’t even reliably report the results back to the people who paid to have them done.

Charlotte Gaydos, an STD and public health expert at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine in Baltimore sent six tests to various online lab test companies to check their reliability.

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Jenny Housh HERWriter


Great article. This is such an important topic to cover. 

Just wanted to let you know we featured it in the EmpowHER newsletter this week. Take a look:  http://bit.ly/17se0Ji

Thanks again!


June 25, 2013 - 10:57am
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We value and respect our HERWriters' experiences, but everyone is different. Many of our writers are speaking from personal experience, and what's worked for them may not work for you. Their articles are not a substitute for medical advice, although we hope you can gain knowledge from their insight.


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