Kenyans can now secretly test for STDs online

Kenyans who suspect they have sexually transmitted diseases ( STDs) can now order for tests anonymously and quickly through the internet or mobile phones to protect their privacy.

The new initiative, unveiled by Pathologists Lancet Kenya, comes amid recent research data revealing that lack of sufficient privacy in sexually transmitted infection (STI) testing clinics was one of the major barriers against uptake of STD tests in the country.

In addition, many Kenyans, especially the youth, often contract STDs during the December holidays, but privacy concerns impact negatively on the decision to seek testing and treatment.

Now Kenyans will be able to request the full range of STD tests, including gonorrhea, syphilis, herpes and HIV by booking anonymously through the internet or telephone without sharing their names or going to the clinic.

Blood and urine samples are then collected from any location in the country where the client is most comfortable with, usually away from the eyes of family members, friends, work colleagues or people familiar to them.

Alternatively, kits for collecting samples can be dispatched to the clients in sealed packages through courier and returned to the lab for testing. Once the results are ready, the client is notified to access them through a special, secure and restricted web portal.

If the results are negative for any STDs, the person can afford to rest easy, with his privacy and dignity still intact.

However, if the results turn out positive, they are linked up for treatment with doctors who also fully appreciate the privacy needs of the patients. In some cases, doctors may email prescriptions for drugs based on the lab results without having to meet the patient.

Available service

The service is available all over the country. Lancet Group Chief Executive Ahmed Kalebi said while demand for STI services is high among Kenyans, lack of sufficient privacy in the testing process has unfortunately discouraged many people from seeking the tests. He said this has negatively impacted on the sexual health of Kenyans.

“There are still considerable levels of stigma and embarrassment among Kenyans when it comes to testing for STDs. Boosting privacy is one way of encouraging more people to take up regular testing to enhance their sexual health and save their lives,” he said.

Moreover, Dr Kalebi asserts the new method is useful when one is worried they may have contracted an STD and requires timely results.

This approach for testing STDs has been adopted from the United Kingdom’s largest STI screening organisation called Better2Know Limited. It has spread to South Africa, Australia and Canada, among others.