The Minnesota Department of Health announced that Sexually Transmitted Infection (STI) rates continue to increase. Notably, the data shows a 23 percent increase in syphilis from 2018-19. Planned Parenthood has launched at-home STI testing kits to respond to this urgent public health need.
Combined with telehealth consultation, at-home STI testing kits allow patients to safely and conveniently test themselves from the privacy and safety of their home. After a patient consults with a provider via telehealth, the patient is mailed a testing kit, complete with directions for sample collection and return shipping supplies. Patients have 30 days to mail their sample to the testing lab. If there is a positive test, or if follow-up care is needed, patients are contacted by the Planned Parenthood care team for treatment options.
Telehealth consultations and follow-up, combined with at-home STI testing, can help mitigate the significant barriers to care posed by COVID-19 and help slow the anticipated growth of STIs through the pandemic and beyond.
“We have a public health crisis brewing amidst other public health crises,” said Sarah Stoesz, President and CEO of Planned Parenthood North Central States. “While we continue to battle COVID-19 and systemic racism, we must also be diligent about our sexual and reproductive health. We are very proud to offer at-home STI testing kits to anyone that needs to be tested, and we are working hard to make sure all Minnesotans have access to the health care they need right now- no matter what.”
STIs can cause serious health problems if left untreated, including cervical cancer, birth complications, infertility, blindness, deafness, bone deformity, meningitis, and many other life-threatening conditions. Some experts are warning that the COVID-19 pandemic may cause even larger surges in sexually transmitted disease and HIV rates because of decreased access to non-emergency services during the COVID-19 pandemic.
"In order to slow and eliminate the spread of STIs, Minnesotans must get tested,” said Dr. Sarah Traxler, Chief Medical Officer of Planned Parenthood North Central States. “Many STIs are treatable, and we can help you get tested and treated all from the comfort and safety of your home. Telehealth is a great option for many patients, and we are continuing to see patients in person at our health centers as well.”
Planned Parenthood continues to offer essential, time-sensitive services in health centers and has moved quickly to make many key reproductive health services available through telehealth.
In addition to STI testing and treatment, our telehealth services now include:
- Birth control
- IUD and birth control implant consultation
- UTI screening and treatment
- PrEP and PEP (for HIV prevention) consultation
- Transgender Hormone Therapy
To make an appointment with Planned Parenthood, patients can call 1.800.230.PLAN (7526). More information on telehealth services is available on our website.