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Will Sharing STD Test Results Via Smartphone Ever Catch On?

App makers envision a future with safer sex practices using new technology

will std apps ever catch on?

You know the drill: Get your blood drawn and then nervously wait for a week to go by without a phone call, since most testing facilities say they’ll call within a week only if something’s amiss.

The app Healthvana set out to make the process of getting tested faster and easier. The app syncs with testing facilities to electronically deliver the results of STD tests faster and more efficiently, and also streamlines the process of following up with a doctor in the event of a positive test. It also allows you to prove your STD status to a potential sex partner, and they, in turn (in an ideal scenario), could show you theirs.

It’s not the first digital means of enabling users to share STD test results, but, to date, it’s the most popular–which isn’t exactly saying much. The website inSpot and the now defunct site U Should Know also created ways to digitally share test results with possible partners.

But will the concept ever catch on? So far, an apparent lack of users have kept any these apps from going viral or becoming standard protocol for people who go out and hook up. Medical professionals have even questioned whether facilities would be prepared to process and transmit results to patients as fast as the app-makers promise if there were large numbers of users.

According to a Huffington Post article:

“We just [wouldn’t] have the administrative staff to really comply with that,” said Dr. Alwyn Cohall, a professor of clinical population and family health at Columbia University’s Mailman School of Public Health and director of the Harlem Health Promotion Center. “If you have a huge clinical program, like a Planned Parenthood or a city department of health site, I would see difficulties in being able to devote the time to get people these records.” Indeed … there have already been instances in which providers have not responded to requests for records [by Healthvana and similar apps].

One of the biggest drawbacks is that a person can test clean, acquire an STD the next day and then go around showing people the results of his/her clean test without knowing he/she has been infected.

Healthvana’s founder, Ramin Bastini, acknowledged that potential issue in an interview with ABC News: “Bastani says he knows the app can’t definitively prove a user is ‘clean,’ as it will only reveal the results of your most recent test. But, he said, it does show a potential sex partner that you care about your sexual health.”

Cyber security should be another concern of patients who want their STD test results sent to their mobile devices. If hackers can gain access to celebrities’ personal photos, what’s to stop them from accessing STD test result records and disseminating them online?

So we’ll see what the future holds for digitally sharing STD results with prospective sexual partners, because it hasn’t quite taken off in the present.

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About Luke Harold Luke Harold is a journalist who has written for publications including the Philadelphia Inquirer and Orange County Register.

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