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Too embarrassed to see a doc? Now you can test for almost any STI from your bedroom

Now you really have no excuse not to get checked out.

Image: Shutterstock/Feel Photo Art

IF YOU BELIEVE the experts, Irish people aren’t good at getting tested for sexually-transmitted diseases – and not through a lack of need.

One specialist recently told TheJournal.ie locals still had a “very unevolved attitude” to their sexual health, while a 2013 survey showed 70% of Irish people had never had a sexual health check-up.

Meanwhile, the number of chlamydia cases diagnosed at the Dublin Well Woman Centre increased 32% last year on the tally for the previous 12 months.

But those too embarrassed - or just too busy - to walk into a sexual-transmitted infection (STI) centre can now get a comprehensive check-up without stepping into a clinic.

Dublin-based Let’s Get Checked has launched a dedicated online service supplying STI-test kits, as well as cancer screening kits, to diagnose a dozen of the most-common conditions.

shutterstock_215990776 Source: Shutterstock/Photographee.eu

The health startup’s CEO, Peter Foley, said because a large share of STIs didn’t lead to any obvious symptoms many people saw little need to get tested.

“There are those who simply won’t go to a clinic – it doesn’t matter what they have they are too frightened,” the 29-year-old said.

On top of that there is the issue of accessibility. People’s work lives these days consume them, so rather than having to take time off work for something they might not even have we give them access at home.”

Foley1 Let's Get Checked CEO Peter Foley

Five steps

It follows the earlier launch of a similar service from Lloyds Online Doctor to test for the two most-common infections, chlamydia and gonorrhoea, and HIV.

Last year the online medical consultants tested 961 patients in conjunction with the Irish Family Planning Association. About 6% of those who took the tests returned a positive result.

However Let’s Get Checked has expanded the scope of the online testing process to screen for up to 12 of the most-common STIs, including hepatitis B and C, and herpes.

The procedure for the tests is straightforward. The kits, which start from €50, are ordered online and arrive in unmarked packages with instructions to complete the urine, blood or swab tests.

They are then shipped off the nearest lab and within two days of being received the results are posted online for patients to see.

The exception, if the test is positive, is that we don’t deliver the results to our online platform until the customer contacted by our supporting team of nurses,” Foley said.

shutterstock_200070566 Source: Shutterstock/Lucy Liu

In the approximately one-in-20 cases that came back positive, clients were instead directed to go to their GP or put in touch with a local clinic.

Foley said his company, which only went live with its current platform a month ago after raising €350,000 in seed funding from investors, was about complimenting existing services like STI clinics and GPs.

Let’s Get Checked has supplied about 1,000 kits so far to clients in Ireland and the UK, and the team, which includes RunLastMan co-founder Ronan Ryan and medical specialist Dominic Rowley, plans to launch the service in mainland Europe within a few months.

It has also agreed a deal to supply the tests to GloHealth customers for free and Foley hopes to reach similar arrangements with other health funds.

“It’s much easier for people to have the attitude that ignorance is bliss and that something won’t go wrong,” Foley said.

The problem with that is that STIs can cause long-term consequences. But there is that emotional barrier where some people just don’t want to be seen going into an STI clinic or the embarrassment factor of an inspection.”

This month, as part of TheJournal.ie’s ongoing startup and small and medium enterprise (SME) focus, we are looking at the health and fitness industries.

To view other stories from our collection, click here.

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About the author:

Peter Bodkin  / Editor, Fora

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