Paying bills, finding dates, booking a hair appointment — these days, it seems like everything is readily accessible online. And, that’s not necessarily a bad thing. The benefits of online living are clear: Information moves faster, and that nifty confirmation email ensures your Seamless order actually includes your food, not what that guy from Accounting ordered. But, is there a limit to what should go digital? Would you, for example, store your STD status online?
That’s what the free Healthvana app wants to offer you. (No, it’s not a fancy yoga studio, although it sure sounds like one.) The app, which launched earlier this summer in partnership with the AIDS Health Foundation, allows you to electronically receive your verified STD results. This info is delivered from the test center to your smartphone, so you can can show potential sexual partners — or new doctors — a time-stamped status on chlamydia, gonorrhea, syphilis, and HIV. Other common STDs, such as HPV and herpes, are not included in the app’s interface.
The app isn’t just designed for show-and-tell. It also helps locate nearby testing centers, and if you have a positive test result, Healthvana will provide next-step guides and connect you with a nearby healthcare provider. And, unlike the current norm, users will be notified of negative results in just a few days — a deliberate feature from founder Ramin Bastani, who wanted to lessen the time and anxiety of waiting for results (or never getting a phone call at all). So, no more wondering, Did I give them the wrong number, or did I test negative?
But, what with the recent hacks to a health insurance enrollment website, Healthvana may have difficulty taking off. Sure, other convenience health apps (period trackers or activity monitors, for example) have hit the ground running, but STD status is some sensitive information to put out there. Plus, some folks may feel online STD-result notification is simply too impersonal — especially if those results come back positive. And, just because someone has the app doesn't mean he or she is willing to share the information with every sexual partner.
Regardless, keeping track of your sexual health is important, and something we should all support — especially given the reality of STDs. So, even if you don’t use this app, let it serve as a reminder to get tested.