Nurx, the San Francisco-based startup best known for providing contraceptives via telemedicine, has just added a new home STI testing option to its slew of services.
The new offerings, which were first spotted by TechCrunch, will allow potential clients to fill out an online questionnaire to receive an STI test kit in the mail. The kit comes with instructions and tools.
There are three STI testing kits available to clients. While all three of the test kits will test for HIV, chlamydia, gonorrhea and syphilis, some will be focused on a few extra diseases matching the customer's needs. For example, one called the Healthy Woman kit will “test for infections most likely to affect female bodies.”
If the results are positive, Nurx’s clinicians can prescribe antibiotics for most cases of chlamydia and trichomoniasis. For the other conditions, the startup said its staff can work "closely" with the client's primary care provider.
WHY IT MATTERS
According to the CDC, there are 20 million new STI cases in the US every year. The conditions disproportionately impact young adults. In fact, 18- to 24-year-olds make up roughly half the cases of STIS, according to the organization. The topic of STIs is often taboo, providing an opportunity for online resources discreetly treating these conditions.
THE LARGER TREND
Mail-order birth control and female health products have become popular in recent years. In fact, Hims, an online sexual health company focused on men’s health, recently launched the female version “Hers,” which will offer a range of hair, skin and sexual health products for online order and delivery. Much like its male counterpart, ordering a product that requires a medical prescription (such as generic birth control pills or the controversial sex drive treatment flibanserin) will include a remote physician consultation and approval before checkout.
While Nurx has traditionally focused on the mail order contraception space, its move into the STI testing space brings new competitors. One of the main ones in the space is company myLab Box, which also tests for sexually transmitted diseases.
But not all news has been good news for Nurx. The New York Times recently published an article reporting that the telemedicine company was “cutting corners” and being lax on birth control prescribing policy.