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Internet service boosts uptake of STI test for high-risk groups

Providing internet-based testing for sexually transmitted infections could increase the number of people being tested, including those in high-risk groups, a study shows

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Providing internet-based testing for sexually transmitted infections (STIs) could increase the number of people being tested, including those in high-risk groups, a study shows.

The nine-month study was led by the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine and King’s College London, in partnership with SH:24, a digital sexual health service.

Participants, who were aged 16-30 and living in London, received one of two text messages.

The control group’s message listed locations, contact details and websites of seven sexual health clinics. The intervention group’s message linked to internet-based testing – known as e-STI testing – and results service SH:24.

Test kits

The group given details of SH:24 was offered postal test kits for chlamydia, gonorrhoea, HIV and syphilis. After returning samples they received results via text message or phone and were given online information about safe sex and sexual health. Participants were free to use other services or interventions during the study.

It found uptake after six weeks was 50% in the group using e-STI testing compared with 26% for those signposted to health clinics.

The researchers say e-STI testing should be considered as a complement to existing services, and a way to increase uptake of STI testing, though further studies are needed to evaluate the impact of e-STI testing on treatment and health outcomes.


Wilson E et al (2017) Internet-accessed sexually transmitted infection (e-STI) testing and results service: A randomised, single-blind, controlled trial. PLOS Medicine. doi: 10.1371/journal.pmed.1002479.

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