Written by Travis Salway Hottes & Devon Haag with Mark Gilbert
For the past few years we’ve been talking to gay and bisexual men in order to design a new STI and HIV testing service.1 We repeatedly heard concerns about the privacy of personal sexual health information and the desired convenience of getting a routine check-up every 3 to 6 months.
The former concern stems from the pervasive sexual stigma ingrained in the lives of gay and bi men. Understandably, gay and bi men don’t always feel comfortable disclosing their sexual orientation or sexual history to their family doctor, or even to nurses at the local STI clinic.
The latter concern reflects the limited access to convenient STI testing options. In combination, the results suggest that we need more options for testing in British Columbia. More hours. More locations. More ways of ordering tests. More ways to get results. Online platforms offer an exciting new opportunity in this area.
In response, we have developed an extensively researched and rigorously designed service called GetCheckedOnline.
In a nutshell, you can order tests for:
- Hepatitis C
by creating an account and answering a few confidential questions on a secure website.
Print a lab form that you can take to a participating LifeLabs location in Vancouver—no identification or health care card required!
You can view negative results online in 7-12 days, and if you test positive, a nurse will follow-up with you to make sure you get treated right away.
We’ll send you an email reminder a few months later so you don’t have to worry about remembering to get your routine check-up.
Nurses are available by phone, or in-person during business hours if you have problems.
GetCheckedOnline is entirely free of cost to you.
We hope that GetCheckedOnline will be useful both to those who are reluctant to test at a clinic, and those who like the testing services already available to gay and bi guys, but who find that their usual clinic is fully booked. GetCheckedOnline can also be a routine testing option for those who don’t want to wait.
British Columbia is not the first place to develop online STI testing, but by consulting with gay and bi guys throughout the development of the service, we think we’ve come up with something truly unique.
Right now, GetCheckedOnline is only available in Vancouver, but we have plans to expand the service to other parts of BC in the future. This is a pilot phase, which means we know it’s not perfect, but we’re working to make it better. With this in mind, we welcome any and all feedback. With your help, we aim to build a service that allows you to get your routine STI and HIV check-ups with minimal hassle.
We hope that STI and HIV testing will one day be free of stigma, free of judgment, and free of stress. Until that day, we think online testing just makes sense. Check it out yourself. And help us spread the word to other gay and bi guys in the Greater Vancouver area!
Want to try online STI testing? Visit the Just Makes Sense campaign page for more information, and enter the following promo code to create your account!: TestVancouver
Devon (Program Manager), Mark (Program Leader), & Travis (Research Associate) work at the BC Centre for Disease Control, where they’re engaged in an innovative Program that offers clinical STI services online, in order to increase access to sexual health testing and information for all British Columbians.