AirTalk for June 3, 2013

Why is LAUSD helping high school students get STD-test results by text message?

Rapid HIV Testing Goes Mobile in Los Angeles

David McNew/Getty Images

A mobile testing program manager uses a photographer's finger to demonstrate how to obtain a blood sample to test for HIV inside a mobile HIV screening lab in Los Angeles, California.

The Los Angeles Unified School District and the STD-test sharing site Qpid.me have joined forces to encourage students to get tested for sexually-transmitted diseases and share those test results with potential partners.

The site provides users with STD testing center locations, then assists them with requesting that their results get sent to Qpid.me. The results of the test are then sent to the user who can choose to send their results to potential partners via text message or a link. 

The LAUSD is targeting seventh through twelfth grade students and demonstrating how to use Qpid.me in health classes. They say the service will hopefully encourage teens to demand to know the STD-status of potential sexual partners.

"We like to think of it as a modern flirtatious version of 'I'll show you mine if you show me yours' to encourage people to have that talk if they're going to go down that road," said Ramin Bastani, Qpid.me founder and CEO, on AirTalk.

Critics like Dr. Diane Foley, however, say that the site could provide a false sense of security.

"My concern would be that students would think, 'Wow, I've been tested. I'm OK now,' without recognizing that there are certainly other health risks to them in this situation," said Foley, a board member at the National Abstinence Education Association and practicing pediatrician in Colorado Springs, Colorado.

Because the site doesn't collect personal information like names and ages, there are no current statistics regarding who is currently using the site. 

Does a service like Qpid.me encourage promiscuity? How do users protect their privacy? Does the site stigmatize users with negative test results? Will users receive accurate information?

Guests:
Ramin Bastani, Founder & CEO Qpid.me

Dr. Diane Foley, board member at the National Abstinence Education Association and practicing pediatrician in Colorado Springs, Colorado

With contributions from Nuran Alteir  


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