Nowadays, there’s an app for about almost everything. And with our ever-changing technology making information more and more accessible, it gets easier by the day. A new free iPhone app, Hula, will now enable users to find local STD testing centers and have their results sent directly to their phones — letting them share the findings with others on their social networks. While this might seem like an odd thing to do or a strange app to have, the creators claim that this will make having to tell a potential date about the last time you were tested easier, making “the conversation less awkward, online or in person,” they claim.
Yearly, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says, there are 20 million new sexually transmitted diseases. The high rate of infection can be partially attributed to the fact that many people go untested and untreated — thus infecting their partners.
“I believe in giving people the information they need to make better decisions,” CEO Ramin Bastani said. The company guarantees convenience for finding testing locations and privacy when divulging test results to their users.
Bastani said his inspiration for starting this app came from being slapped on the face after he asked a girl if she had been tested. “As she walked out, I sat there thinking, 'There has to a better way to have this conversation,'" he said on Hula's site. So in 2010, Bastani set out to create Hula.
There is a stigma about some of the the most common and treatable STDs, which makes it harder for people to question their partner’s status as well as to get tested themselves. “We need to counteract the stigma associated with STDs. Even in the most comprehensive sex education programs, STDs are often presented as a dark side of sex,” Dr. Kathryn Stamoulis said, according to Psychology Today.
Currently, the app tests for these STDs: HIV: RNA/DNA, antibody and viral load (for HIV positive users); gonorrhea: genital/urine, rectal and oral; chlamydia: genital/urine, rectal and oral; syphilis, hepatitis C antibody, HSV1 and HSV2 (the viruses that cause herpes); HPV vaccine; hepatitis A test and vaccine; and the hepatitis B test and vaccine.
There are websites and apps that do cater to people with certain incurable STDs in a dating sense. However, Hula is the only one of its kind that offers a service catering specifically to STD testing. While this might seem like a great idea, the company does admit that there might be some cracks to fill when it comes to accuracy. It might offer a false sense of security since there is a window period from someone contracting an STD and it showing up on a test. However, the company feels that Hula will help to ease the way STDs are approached.
The only safe way to be 100 percent protected against any type of sexually transmitted disease is abstinence. Second to that is condoms, and even with that there are some risks to consider.