The notion of offering a self-test for chlamydia via the Web - unique in the world - is the centerpiece of the dissertation that Daniel Novak will be defending at Umea University, Sweden, on March 3.
"Testing yourself with the aid of the Internet is something I hope will serve as a major complement to present - day care," he comments.
Many sexually transmitted diseases present no early symptoms. It is fully possible, for instance, to carry a chlamydia infection without knowing it. At the same time, it is crucial to discover these diseases early in order to counteract their complications and prevent their spread. It is also important to attain a better gender balance among those who have themselves tested-in Sweden roughly 75% of chlamydia tests are done on women.
The dissertation presents a method that enhances the prevention of sexually transmitted diseases. It has proven to be applicable to and accepted by the population of West Bothnia County in northern Sweden, and it has led to a nearly balanced gender distribution among those tested. A health-economic analysis shows such a method to be cost-effective.
Functioning communication between the individual and health-care providers is important to all prevention. The Internet has proven to play a key role in the prevention of sexually transmitted diseases by simplifying communication and making tests more easily accessible. This is a method that has worked well in West Bothnia and that can be used by other counties or countries. It can also be used to combat other sexually transmitted diseases like gonorrhea.
The method is based on the responsibility of the individual. Interested people can visit a home page and learn more about sexual health. With that knowledge they make their own risk assessment and are offered the opportunity to order a set for self-testing in the home. The test is administered at home and sent to the laboratory for analysis. The customer then checks the test result on the Net via a personal code. Infected individuals consult with their doctors themselves.
The studies behind the dissertation have shown that young people actually do assume the responsibility for their own sexual health and test themselves if there is an accessible, informative, and reliable method available.
The Web site is at: http://www.klamydia.se/