Peipert said that one reason home-testing kits are important is that young, healthy women who use long-acting contraceptives -- injectable, implantable or intrauterine devices -- often neglect to get regular gynecological checkups.
That also concerns Dr. Cynthia Krause, an assistant clinical professor of obstetrics, gynecology and reproductive services at Mount Sinai Medical Center in New York City.
"I think that anything that increases testing for STIs [sexually transmitted infections] in young women is valuable," Krause said. "But, as a GYN, I worry that it will lead to women having less of a relationship with a doctor and possibly feeling that a test is a replacement for a visit with their GYN."
Nonetheless, she acknowledged, the convenience and lack of intrusiveness of home-testing would appeal to many women.
"I think it's helpful to be able to screen at home, but I worry that it may be interpreted as a substitute for an annual GYN exam," she said. Screening for hepatitis, HPV (human papilloma virus), AIDS, weight, contraception and domestic abuse are all part of annual doctor visits, she said.
According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, more than 1.5 million cases of chlamydia and gonorrhea were reported in 2008, the most recent figures available. But that number, according to the agency, represents only about half of the cases that actually exist. Though annual screening for STDs is recommended, the CDC estimates that only about 26 percent to 60 percent of women actually have the tests.
For at-home testing for STDs similar to that done in the study to become viable would not only require that kits be available for purchase by consumers but also that a system be set up to handle the mailed-in results, including testing labs and telephone numbers women could call for assistance, Peipe
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