Quest Diagnostics, Secaucus, NJ, has launched three laboratory testing packages for some of the most prevalent sexually transmitted diseases (STDs), and is making them available for online purchase by individuals across the continental United States.
The new STD testing packages are the first that any major national laboratory has made available for individuals to order at their discretion. The packages have been designed to meet the needs of individuals who want access to accurate basic or comprehensive STD testing, but are reluctant to engage their healthcare providers directly.
Research by Quest Diagnostics has shown that patients and healthcare providers often fail to discuss sexual behavior and STD risk. According to a survey commissioned by Quest, 51% of females aged 18–24 years say they don’t want to bring up the topics of sex or STDs for discussion with their clinicians, and 49% claim their clinician has never asked if they want STD testing.
US rates of chlamydia, gonorrhea, and syphilis have climbed for 4 consecutive years, and are now at epidemic levels, with nearly 2.3 million cases of diagnosed STDs in 2017 alone.1 Half of all new STD cases are acquired by young people between the ages of 15 and 24, and one in four sexually active adolescents has a sexually transmitted disease.
“Too many people are not being screened for STDs, and one reason is reluctance to discuss risk with healthcare providers,” says Damian (Pat) Alagia III, MD, FACOG, FACS, an obstetrician-gynecologist and medical director for women’s health at Quest Diagnostics. “Services that empower individuals to access STD testing extend physician-based care so more people can receive the evaluation and treatment they need.”
The new STD testing service is available in 45 states through QuestDirect, an online consumer-initiated testing service that allows users to purchase health and wellness lab testing from home. In Arizona, Indiana, and Oklahoma the testing service is available through joint venture partners Sonora Quest, Mid America Clinical Laboratories, and Diagnostic Laboratory of Oklahoma, respectively. The service is not available in Alaska or Hawaii.
Test results are made available on MyQuest, the company’s secure patient portal, which is accessible from a desktop computer, smartphone, or tablet. Results are typically available within a week, and may be shared with the individual’s own physician.
Licensed physicians provide oversight for all lab testing, based on the information that individuals provide to Quest. Oversight includes ordering tests, if appropriate, and evaluating test results when they become available. Individuals have the opportunity to speak with a physician to discuss any of the lab results. In some states, the physicians may also provide treatment for certain conditions, or recommend further medical follow-up.
“Our research shows consumers believe that the ability to purchase certain tests and receive results would facilitate better communication with their physicians and improve their health,” says Cathy Doherty, senior vice president and group executive for clinical franchise solutions and marketing at Quest Diagnostics. “Greater access to accurate testing, diagnoses, and treatment is particularly critical in sexual and reproductive health, where medications can often quickly cure many common STDs. With these services, Quest is meeting consumers where they are, empowering them to access and take actions from diagnostic insights to improve their health.”
QuestDirect provides access to the company’s national network of 2,250 patient service centers and uses the same clinical-grade lab technology and STD testing services that physicians order on behalf of patients. The STD packages include tests for chlamydia, gonorrhea, hepatitis B and C, human immunodeficiency virus (HIV), syphilis, and trichomonas.
For further information, visit Quest Diagnostics.
- CDC fact sheet: reported STDs in the United States, 2017 [online]. Atlanta: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 2018. Available at: www.cdc.gov/nchhstp/newsroom/docs/factsheets/std-trends-508.pdf. Accessed June 2, 2019.
Featured image: Sample page from the QuestDirect portal.