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'Reduces the stigma': At-home STI testing kits coming this fall

Canadians will be able to test for chlamydia, gonorrhea and trichomoniasis with one urine sample.

Canadians will be able test for the most common and curable sexually transmitted infections (STIs) starting this fall.

Switch Health is creating the at-home kits so people can test for things like chlamydia, gonorrhea and trichomoniasis with one urine sample.

"Switch Health's at-home STI Panel Collection Kit is a critical step in managing a serious public health crisis," said Dr. Gregory Taylor, chief medical officer at Switch Health and former chief public health officer of Canada. 

"Using telehealth technology in this way helps reduce the long wait times our medical system continues to struggle with, but most importantly, it provides access and reduces the stigma that surrounds common STIs which will lead to better outcomes for the patient. STIs can have painful and irreversible effects if not treated and managed."

In an email to Glacier Media, Switch Health spokesperson Micah Green said the kit will be available for purchase on the company's website or at participating retailers. 

"We are currently working with public and private insurers to make them as accessible as possible," he said.

While STIs are curable and preventable in most cases, they continue to be a public health concern. In fact, STIs have been on the rise. 

In the past decade, gonorrhea rates have nearly tripled with with a 182 per cent increase, according to a 2019 Public Health Agency of Canada report. Meanwhile, chlamydia's overall rate of infection increased by 41 per cent.

And although the Public Health Agency of Canada recommends that sexually active Canadians test regularly, access to testing and the stigma around it limits the regularity of being tested.