Sexually transmitted infections have exponentially increased in the past decade. The CDC now estimates that one in five Americans is currently living with an STI, including HIV. One contributing factor is technological advancements to meeting potential partners. In response, Building Healthy Online Communities and the National Alliance of State and Territorial AIDS Directors (NASTAD) partnered on a program to raise awareness of self-testing on dating apps.
The program is titled TakeMeHome and is operated by Building Healthy Online Communities (BHOC), a consortium of public health groups based out of the San Francisco AIDS Foundation. To manage the logistics and diagnostic needs of the TakeMeHome project, BHOC selected Molecular Testing Labs, allowing patients to order self-collection kits directly to an address of their choosing.
Through NASTAD’s existing relations with all state health departments, health jurisdictions can easily sign up and enable the TakeMeHome program in whatever geography they choose, for whichever STIs they choose to support. Dating app users in those approved geographies are then served public health focused, identity-affirming advertisements for free self-collected testing. When a dating app user completes their brief eligibility screener, Molecular sends all necessary devices for self-collection to the patient, along with collection instructions and a pre-addressed, prepaid return mailer.
To see example self-collection kits from Molecular Testing Labs, please visit https://moleculartestinglabs.com/collections/self-collection-kits
Jen Hecht, the driving force behind Building Healthy Online Communities and TakeMeHome, recognizes the double-edged sword of technology and the importance of public health leveraging new tools to keep pace with patients’ needs.
“We want to make getting a test as easy as ordering pizza and make it free.“
TakeMeHome represents a crucial turning point in our battle against the spread of sexually transmitted infections. Health departments are able to reach higher-risk patients in a targeted way and gather diagnostics on them remotely.
Brad Thorson, Director of Business Development for Self-collected Diagnostics for Molecular noted, “without the four walls of a clinic, intervention design is even more crucial. Potential patients are continuously bombarded with branded messaging. The TakeMeHome project gives public health an opportunity to capture patients’ attention where they previously couldn’t.”
To order a kit, visit https://takemehome.org/, to learn more about the program, visit https://bhocpartners.org/home-testing.