Sexually transmitted diseases are infections common in sexually active groups, mainly teens. Although the typical transmission of STDs is via sexual intercourse, some can be transmitted through skin-to-skin contact. Having an STD is usually embarrassing because of the stigma it comes with.
Because of the transmission mode and the stigmatization, most people don't go to hospitals for diagnosis and treatment. This can be dangerous because when some STDs like chlamydia are not treated in time, they can cause significant health issues like infertility. Fortunately, scientists and developers have worked tirelessly to come up with telehealth services.
Telehealth for STD allows you to get STD testing and treatment remotely, reducing the infection rate because most people will go for testing due to privacy. Before we look into Telehealth further into the importance of Telehealth, let's get its definition first.
What is Telehealth?
Though Telehealth has been around for some time, you might hear it for the first time. Telehealth, also known as telemedicine, is where your medical personnel provides you with healthcare services in the comfort of your home using the internet through a computer, smartphone, or tablet.
Telehealth can be handy for those uncomfortable discussing their health status in healthcare centers but prefer doing it privately at home.
Telehealth for STDs can significantly reduce the number of infections, but they have limitations as only a few STDs can be correctly diagnosed because there is no in-person diagnosis.
How does Telehealth work?
During telehealth testing for STDs, your healthcare provider will ask about your recent sexual history, the symptoms you're experiencing, and any other underlying condition. Depending on your preference, they can be virtually or through a phone call. You can respond via text message or live chat if you're uncomfortable with facial explanations.
The clinician will then decide on the condition to test. The number of STDs Telehealth can screen is limited; they provide a test for chlamydia, gonorrhea, and HIV, which makes it unreliable sometimes.
A telehealth STIs kit usually contains screening materials needed for the test like a cotton swab, finger pricks, sample containers, and manual instructions on how to use them.
Who should offer Telehealth STD testing?
Telehealth is becoming common because of its speed and cost-friendly. Sexual health clinicians have been dominating the usage of remote tests. However, they are not the only ones you can opt for; they are other practitioners who can offer sexual health screenings.
If you have a primary care provider with whom you have a bond and trust, you can permit them to offer you a remote STD test. But, the provider should have access to a lab.
Providers who deal with long-term chronic diseases like HIV can also help in telehealth STD testing.
When should you use Telehealth for STDs?
Telehealth became common when covid-19 hit the world, and people were advised to work remotely- this is when people learned that the best option to replace in-person care is through Telehealth.
You can use Telehealth if you have the resources that can ensure effective usage, you want to reduce the costs associated with seeing your doctor personally, and you want to avoid traveling.
However, you must know that Telehealth is unsuitable for all conditions as some require laboratory testing for diagnosis. But, you can use Telehealth for diagnosis and treatment follow-up. You can do this after doing laboratory testing, and then you follow up with your healthcare provider using Telehealth without necessarily visiting the healthcare center.
You can also use Telehealth for contact tracing and partner notification. The governments have rolled out partner notifications to curb the spread of STDs. Your healthcare provider can use Telehealth to get to your partner for diagnosis and treatment.
Also, Telehealth is a better option if you have ongoing treatment and prevention, especially for chronic diseases. But, it’s wise to have basic first aid knowledge to handle some chronic diseases.
What are some of the benefits of Telehealth for STDs?
Many benefits come with Telehealth when diagnosing, treating, and preventing STDs. Many people shy away from discussing sexual health face-to-face, and Telehealth, an online platform, can solve this problem as patients can feel free and comfortable sharing.
Reduce wait time
STDs are common infections that affect the majority of teens every day. This means that most healthcare facilities receive many patients daily, thus increasing wait time and congestion; this is where Telehealth comes in handy.
With Telehealth, most patients will get the diagnosis, treatment, and prevention of STDs in the comfort of their homes unless the condition requires lab testing.
It is cost-effective
To diagnose and treat some of these STDs, you must visit a healthcare facility more than once. Sometimes your doctor will want to do a follow-up and requires you to see the facility more often, which can be costly in terms of fare.
But, when using Telehealth, you only need a gadget and internet connectivity, and you're good to go.
What are the challenges of using Telehealth for STDs?
One of the significant challenges of Telehealth is that you cannot use it for most STDs. Most of these STDs require laboratory testing, primarily done in healthcare facilities.
How do I prepare for a telehealth visit for STD care?
The first step to preparing for telehealth care for STD is to think about why you want it and write down the questions and concerns you wish to raise. You should be ready to talk about when the STI symptoms appear, and the last time you had sexual contact with potentially someone with STD.
Ask questions about some risky behaviors that might lead to STI infections. If the person you last had sex with has an STI, you should be able to know the STI they have, when they were confirmed positive, and the last time you engaged in risky sexual behavior.
This will help your healthcare provider to determine the possibility of you contracting the infection.
Telehealth services for STDs can help those who feel uncomfortable talking about their sexual health face-to-face, and it also helps in reducing stigmatization. However, these online services are limited to a few STDs because most require lab testing.