Vancouver – Online sexually transmitted infection (STI) testing removes some of the barriers that prevent people from getting tested while still providing key information about health and wellness, according users.
Researchers with the BC Centre for Disease Control (BCCDC) and University of British Columbia (UBC) published three studies evaluating the user experience of a free and confidential online testing called GetCheckedOnline (http://getcheckedonline.com), during the first few years of its operation.
GetCheckedOnline, provided by the BCCDC, tests for STIs and blood-borne infections such as HIV and hepatitis C. It is the first online sexual health service in B.C. and is available to people living in Metro Vancouver and, in partnership with Island Health and Interior Health Authorities, some parts of Vancouver Island and the Interior. More than 12,000 tests have been completed since it launched in 2014, and 43 per cent of people have used it for testing more than once.
Rod Knight, an assistant professor in the UBC department of medicine, conducted interviews with gay, bisexual and other men who have sex with men to learn more about their experience with the service. This group often faces stigma in healthcare settings which can deter them from getting the HIV and other STI tests they need. They reported very positive experiences because they weren’t required to see a clinician and discuss their sexual activity in order to get tested. The interviewees also said the online service gave them more autonomy throughout the testing process.
The studies were recently published in Sexually Transmitted Infections:
· Qualitative analysis of the experiences of gay, bisexual and other men who have sex with men who use GetCheckedOnline.com: a comprehensive internet-based diagnostic service for HIV and other STIs: https://sti.bmj.com/content/early/2019/01/12/sextrans-2018-053645
· Differences in experiences of barriers to STI testing between clients of the internet-based diagnostic testing service GetCheckedOnline.com and an STI clinic in Vancouver, Canada: https://sti.bmj.com/content/early/2018/02/15/sextrans-2017-053325
· Post-test comparison of HIV test knowledge and changes in sexual risk behaviour between clients accessing HIV testing online versus in-clinic: https://sti.bmj.com/content/early/2019/01/12/sextrans-2018-053652.long
How to use GetCheckedOnline
To use GetCheckedOnline, visit http://getcheckedonline.com, and follow these steps:
1) Create an account. You will need a promotional code to set up your account. You will be asked to provide some personal information, including name, date of birth, gender, city and phone number. This is so the lab can process your samples and we can contact you about your results
2) Give samples at a lab. Create a lab form in GetCheckedOnline and take it to a participating LifeLabs location on your mobile device. You will not be asked to show ID or your BC Care Card. At the lab, you will be asked to give a blood and/or urine sample, and you may be given a swab kit to take home.
3) Get your test results. You will receive an email from GetCheckedOnline letting you know when your test results are ready. If any of your results are positive or inconclusive, a nurse will contact you to talk about treatment or retesting.
Your GetCheckedOnline account will be linked to your electronic chart at the Provincial STI Clinic at BCCDC using a unique number. This is so that we can provide you with the best care possible.