Rates of infection with sexually transmitted disease are up. If you practice in urgent care, you probably don’t need statistics to know that, as many patients concerned about possibly having an STD find comfort in the relative anonymity of the urgent care center, and opt to get tested there instead of in their “regular” doctor’s office. Now the makers of “home tests” are taking aim at these same prospective patients with marketing messages that promote both anonymity and convenience. A new PBS report, however, raises the question of whether using such tests could lead to inaccurate diagnoses, ultimately delaying the correct treatment and giving patients a false sense of security (and safety, for their partners). As the story explains, it’s actually not all that convenient at this point: What the patient receives, essentially, is a sample collection kit. They have to collect a sample themselves under conditions no one could assure are optimal, and then they still have to a doctor’s office to deliver the sample, and wait to hear the results. While the spike in diagnoses obviously supports the search for new approaches to prevention, diagnosis, and treatment, having results that were derived through interaction with competent clinicians outweighs any exaggerated claims of convenience. Immediate presentation to a trained clinician—which will often be an urgent care provider, given the wait times to see primary care clinicians or specialists—is still the quickest and safest way to be tested for STDs. For more about the subject of STDs and urgent care, read any of the following articles from the JUCM archives:

Marketing of Home STD Tests Misses the Mark—at What Cost to the Patient?
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