Tag Archives: STDs

STI Test Innovation: US vs. UK

In STI testing news over the weekend, the FDA halted over-the-counter sales of a testing service offered through Rite-Aid called Identigene and UK residents may soon be able to buy a cell-phone chip that, after spitting or peeing upon, can be plugged in and test for STIs.

First: how is the US lagging on this insanely cool nanotechnology? Consumers in the US only have access to urine-sample kits sent into a lab for processing. (I wrote about one such private service earlier this year.) The future of STI testing may be arriving soon, but not on this side of the pond.

Second: there is a big conceptual gap evidenced in these government agencies concerning STI testing.

Snip from the NYT Blog:

F.D.A. officials said they needed to first confirm the test was accurate.

There are “a lot of social implications if there is a false result, as you can imagine,’’ said Dr. Sally Hojvat, director of microbiology for the medical device division at the agency.

Another concern of the F.D.A. is whether people who test positive will have access to a doctor. Mr. Smith said Identigene has doctors on contract who will approve each test ordered and release the result. But he said the company could not ensure the doctors would talk to patients.

Snip from the Guardian:

Prof Noel Gill, head of HIV and STIs at the Health Protection Agency, the government agency that monitors infections and advises on containment strategies, said: “HPA surveillance has shown that the impact of STIs is greatest among young people and we hope that the application of new technology will help to reduce transmission of infection in this age group.

“This is an exciting research and development consortium which will develop new technologies that both improve and expand testing for STIs. As innovations become available, the HPA will co-ordinate large-scale evaluations within a network of collaborating STI clinics,” Gill added.

While there is no way to ensure with either technology that users will seek medical treatment, there is also no way to ensure a patient will take the antibiotics given to them. (Or follow any of a health professional’s advice. How many times has your dentist told you to floss?) The level of control exercised by the FDA on this matter seems mistrustful of consumers and favoring doctors. In contrast, the message from the UK agencies seem to simply be: “We’ll do whatever we can to get you tested.”

Personally, I don’t think the FDA should be restricting the public’s access to reliable STI tests. The most important thing is that the tests are accurate, accessible and results come with information on how to obtain treatment.


A Pricey Private Alternative to Public Health Clinics

Logo Screengrab from STDTestExpress.com

Move over public health clinics, there’s a new testing site in town. Make that 1,800 private testing sites connected through one online service. STDTestExpress, an Analyte Media product, connects customers with confidential, fast testing services with doctor consults via phone. And if public health clinics freak you out, they offer a de-stressed testing experience by using a large national testing lab.

Their product is incredibly clever: Continue reading A Pricey Private Alternative to Public Health Clinics

Gendered HIV/AIDS PSAs

Only in France can this be a condom PSA.

I love watching PSAs about sex. The medium communicates much more than just the message. Let’s check out my favorite condom use/HIV/AIDS Awareness campaign from France.

The Pub AIDES campaign created three animated PSAs, each centering around a protagonist’s love/sex life: a straight man, a straight woman and a gay man. (View all ads at this Wired.com post. Due to mature content Daily Motion disabled embedding.) Continue reading Gendered HIV/AIDS PSAs

HIV Prevention Project in Peace Corps

Because I am, as one friend put it, “[t]otally feather-pluckingly insane” I am applying to the Peace Corps. This is not a decision I am taking lightly nor is this something that will happen right away. I’ve spent hours at this point reading blogs from returned volunteers and researching the type of work volunteers do in other countries. Continue reading HIV Prevention Project in Peace Corps

Indirect Sex Partners = Disguised Slut Shaming

A pharmacy in London launched a calculator that uses the six degrees of separation concept to determine your number of indirect sex partners. The idea is that every time you sleep with one person you sleep with all of their previous sex partners. I get the idea but the execution is a low-grade scare tactic rooted in false assumptions about sexual risk.

What does indirectly sleeping with people even mean? Continue reading Indirect Sex Partners = Disguised Slut Shaming


Viruses are FASCINATING. They’re in between living and non-living, and thus require host organisms to replicate.
Viruses exist in 2 cycle phases: lysogenic and lysis. Lysogenic is when a virus is just chillin’ inside of a cell. Lysis is when it explodes from and kills the host cell, much like a creepy sci-fi alien bursting out of a chest cavity.

The best defense against viruses? Continue reading Viruses!