The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimated that there are approximately 19 million new sexually transmitted disease (STD) infections each year, which cost the U.S. health care system $16.4 billion annually and cost individuals even more in terms of acute and long-term health consequences.
STD incidence remains a growing problem among adolescents and young adults under the age of 25. According to an article authored by Meredith Cohn from the Baltimore Sun, “Up to half of sexually active young people will get [an STD] by the time they are 25, yet many don't seek testing because it may be difficult, costly or embarrassing.”
But the John Hopkins University in Baltimore is prepared with a solution to help teens get tested more easily, with anonymity, and ultimately to help young people prevent the spread of STDs.
Charlotte A. Gaydos, a professor of infectious diseases at John Hopkins University helped develop the program called "I Want the Kit," and its website, (iwantthekit.org), which now serves primarily teens and young adults in Maryland, Washington, West Virginia, parts of Illinois, and in Denver and Philadelphia.
The kit tests for the two of the most commonly spread STDs—gonorrhea and chlamydia—as well as trichomoniasis.
The kit can be obtained free of charge by making a request on the website. Kits are mailed in a plain envelope with a swab, questionnaire, information about STDs and consent form. Teenagers living at home with their parents can request the kit, knowing it won’t be coming in blatantly revealing, potentially compromising packaging.
John Hopkins University reported that about 43 percent who request the kits return them.
“Patients are given an identification number and passcode to get their results by phone in two weeks. Appointments are made in a local clinic of the patient's choice for those who test positive — up to 13 percent depending on the gender and STD. About 3,500 young people, half under the age of 23, have gotten tests from the site, some more than once,” Cohn wrote.