Each year, nearly half of the 19 million STDs infections detected affect teens and young adults aged 15 to 24. It's an epidemic, but one that can be slowed down if more people were aware or had access to care and prevention services.
Enter the myLAB Box, the first-ever, do-it-yourself STD testing kit that's available to order online. L.A.-based entrepreneurs Lora Ivanova and Ursula Hessenflow conceived the kit in 2013 to empower people to take control of their sexual health.
Ivanova even experienced a troublesome pattern when it came to dating and noticed her friends shared the same stories.
"Contrary to what all Sex Ed classes had taught us in our youth — both men and women are not testing for STDs consistently. Healthy conversations about safe sex are few and far between," she told A Plus in an email. "What better way to accomplish that than by giving people the opportunity to, just like dating, tailor their health care to their individual preference?"
After working with experts and medical professionals on the product, the service officially launched nationwide last Wednesday. More than 1,000 people have ordered and used their myLAB Box kits, which can be tailored to fit an individuals' needs.
There are kits for chlamydia and gonorrhea, HIV, trichomoniasis, hepatitis C, or all of them, and range between $79 and $189. The tests take no more than five minutes with results returning to the person who mailed them in within two to three days.
Ivanova also told A Plus that the team is always looking to expand the services offered to include more diseases, such as HPV.
While the kits may not be as needed for urban areas — such as NYC, for instance, which offers low-budget STD testing — people living in less populated cities and towns could benefit from a convenient alternative than trying to drive to wherever faraway clinic offers the services.
Some universities don't even offer STD testing. But even if they do, there are obstacles. Students at Emerson University in Boston had complaints that their wellness center only tested for STDs if the person exhibited symptoms. Otherwise, they had to get tested off-campus.
Though the at-home kit shouldn't be replaced with regular screenings, they do give people an affordable and accessible opportunity for early detection, which is key in stopping their transmission — especially for the STDs with little or no symptoms.
"myLAB Box sees an opportunity to transform preventative STD screening with a simple service offering a first line of defense," Ivanova told A Plus.
The tagline? Safe is Sexy.
Indeed it is.