Thursday, 5 May 2016

Have you heard of the new app which lets you post your STD results online?

Still using social media to share boring old things like photos, status updates, and cat videos? That’s so 2015, pal.

The latest trend — if one tech startup has its way? Sharing the results of your STD tests.

Mately, a New York-based company aiming to “take STD testing out of the Stone Age,” announced this week the start of a crowdfunding campaign to help launch a service that would allow users to share the results of their sexually transmitted disease tests digitally.

Why, you ask, would anyone do such a thing?

“Mately is seeking to break the current mold of STD testing by offering its members what they have been waiting for — a way to submit a sample from home to a lab and exchange one’s results electronically with potential romantic partners,” a release from the company stated.

It works like this: The app’s targeted users — individuals apparently too busy to make it to the doctor for regular STD testing — would receive personal collection kits at home and be able to mail in small blood and urine samples.

The company would then analyze the samples and transmit results back to users through the Mately app. Users, in turn, would be able to share their results with other Mately members.

At a time when more and more people use dating apps like Tinder and Grindr, which can facilitate face-to-face meetings between strangers in a matter of minutes, knowing quickly that a potential partner has a clean bill of sexual health is of growing importance.

Mately hopes to partner with dating apps to give users additional insights into the well-being of someone with whom they might spend time.

“STD testing advocacy that relies on scare tactics and emotional appeals just isn’t working anymore,” Mately CEO Brandon Greenberg explained in a press release.

The Centers for Disease Control states that 20 million STDs are diagnosed in the US annually, and of that, about half occur in young people ages 15-24. Approximately 25 percent of sexually active young women have an STD such as HPV, or human papillomavirus, according to the CDC.

Meanwhile, STD rates — especially for syphilis — in gay and bisexual men are rising rapidly. In 2014, according to the CDC, nearly 20,000 cases of syphilis were reported (91 percent of them in men). That’s up from less than 6,000 in 2000.

The reasons for this are various and still being studied, but testing is one way to curb the spread of infection.

“If we really want to move the dial when it comes to more frequent testing,” Greenberg said, “then we must create a model that makes it more convenient for individuals to get tested often and offers them a value proposition that gets them excited about a process that has traditionally been avoided.”

Whether the idea takes hold remains to be seen. By Wednesday morning, Mately had raised just $3,630 of its $500,000 goal on the site Indiegogo. The company also issued an apology this week, according to the New York Post, after using an unlicensed image of Bert and Ernie in its marketing campaign.

In the image, which was temporarily posted to Mately’s Facebook page, the two Sesame Street characters are looking over paperwork together. The caption above reads: “See Ernie, you’ve got nothing to worry about, everything is positive!”

- Boston Globe