STI Triage: Could an App help You to Identify an STI?

How To Treat Arthritis With Your SmartphoneThese days, there’s an app for just about anything and, when it comes to sexual health, it’s no different. With a swipe of your smartphone, you can track your ovulation, stop yourself from drunk-dialling, and even determine which of your friends would sleep with you but now your phone can really help you take care of your sexual wellbeing – by helping you to identify an STI.

With the STD Triage, launched last month in San Francisco, you can get your potential STDs checked out simply using your phone. The app allows you to take a photo of any below-the-belt worries you might have, and then anonymously submit it to a team of licensed dermatologists. These wellness experts will take an educated guess of what the problem might be, and email you back within 24 hours with a suggestion of whether or not you need to book a doctor’s appointment.

According to Alexander Börve, who created the app at UC Berkeley, ‘We’re basically a step between a Google search and a trip to the doctor.’ However, Börve is quick to note that the app is in no way a diagnosis service or a substitute for a doctor’s visit, even though all the STD Triage doctors are licensed dermatologists. ‘A patient-doctor relationship is essential for diagnosis, but we can at least point someone in the right direction,’ he explained.

Börve, is an orthopedic surgeon working toward a thesis in digital health at Berkeley, and is also the founder of Swedish app iDoc24 (a similar service that addresses dermatological issues). He reported that roughly 70% of the cases submitted to iDoc24 result in a recommendation for an over-the-counter treatment, ‘but we’re really concerned with making sure that 30% takes steps to get to a doctor right away,’ he added.

You have the right to download the anonymous app and submit a photo free-of-charge, but if you want the privilege of actually reading the results, which, after all, is the reason you downloaded the app in the first place, you’ll have to pay a fee of $9.99. The same goes for STD Triage’s anonymous website (for those of you who don’t have a smartphone). So if you want the luxury of knowing whether something is worth bothering your doctor about, it seems as though you need to be willing to turn your head and cough up.

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