It’s a difficult fact that young people shoulder the burden of STI infection. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's (CDC) recent report on the human and economic burden of STIs estimates that there are nearly 20 million new STIs diagnosed every year. Half of these new cases are found in people between the ages of 15 and 24, more than any other age bracket in the U.S.
Even worse, a large proportion of STIs that most commonly affect young people — chlamydia, gonorrhea, syphilis, and trichomoniasis — are curable but can have serious consequences if left untreated. Women especially bear the brunt of these repercussions, which range from pelvic pain to cancer and infertility.
Yearly screenings for STIs are an absolute must for any sexually active person, but if there’re some suspicious symptoms going on “down there,” well, there’s finally an app for that. Recently launched in San Francisco, STD Triage is an iPhone app that allows users to get their symptoms checked anonymously just by taking a picture, before trudging over to an examination.
What’s the Deal
Described by app creator Dr. Alexander Börve to the Huffington Post as “a step between a Google search and a trip to the doctor,” STD Triage enables users to snap pictures of their symptoms, describe them, and send them off anonymously to a team of licensed dermatologists. If an iPhone isn’t handy, there’s also free submission through the company’s website.
While it’s free to submit a report to doctors, users must pay $9.99 to get the results.
STD Triage is based on technology from iDoc24, which is used to help identity skin health concerns. So, it's like the video below, just... tailored for your genitals.
Why It Matters
Anyone who has had a “personal” scare knows that it can be an embarrassing enough experience to get checked or get treatment. It also can be a situation full of doubt and online misinformation about what specific STIs look like or do to the human body. And while going onto WebMD and playing doctor with symptoms is a natural reaction, amateur care-taking runs the risk of sending users into a hypochondriacal tizzy or toning down symptoms that are more serious.
STD Triage is an easy, fast app that can give someone an educated opinion on symptoms for relatively little cost and relatively little embarrasment.
Is It Legit?
Pretty much. For all of its services, Börve emphatically cautions that STD Triage is not meant to be an adequate substitute for a clinical diagnosis in-person by a doctor’s office. Still, its ease of use can be the extra step some people need to address the possibility of an STI, and that’s a big enough mental hurdle to make a difference.
It’s not a wholesale resolution, but STD Triage could help more people get treated faster and possibly even save someone with dealing with severe repercussions from STIs.