At-home STD kits allow people who may have been exposed to sexually transmitted infections and diseases to provide a sample, get their results from the privacy and convenience of their homes and find out their STD status without the hassle of making a doctor’s appointment. These tests can check for a single disease or infection, such as HIV, or a full panel of common STDs, including HIV, syphilis, herpes and more.
How important is it to get tested for STDs and STIs? Statistics show that most people who have these diseases don’t know it. In fact, about 90% of people who are infected with genital herpes have never been diagnosed, and an estimated 1 in 7 Americans who are HIV-positive are unaware of their infection status. The lack of awareness of a person’s STD status means they are at a much higher risk of unknowingly spreading infections to their sexual partners and beyond.
But new at-home STD test kits offer the promise of expanding testing for sexually transmitted infections to even more people. Consumers now have dozens of options for providers and sources of STD test kits. Let’s look at the growing number of options out there for getting your hands on an STD test kit and what you need to know about them.
Most major pharmacy chains today carry a wide variety of at-home kits for testing a range of health issues, including STDs but also things like drug use and cholesterol. Here is a look at some of the national and regional pharmacy chains that are known to carry at least one at-home kit to check for the presence of an STI or STD:
- Rite Aid
- Duane Reade
Before picking up any at-home kit from a pharmacy chain, be sure to understand exactly which STDs the test checks for and what determines a positive test. For instance, most take-home test kits for STDs check for the presence of antibodies that are produced by the immune system when it detects an infection, but specific brands and test types may vary.
Groceries & Big-Box Stores
Some of the world’s largest brick-and-mortar retailers also are huge sellers of home test kits for STDs, and you can pick them up right along with your weekly grocery purchase in many cases. Here’s a look at some of the biggest stores that are known to carry at least one type of STD test that can be done in the privacy of your own home:
As with pharmacies that carry these tests, it’s crucial to ensure you know exactly what the test is checking for before you purchase it. Also, while we’re talking here about at-home tests, it’s important to remember that many grocery and pharmacy chains offer low-cost health clinics that may provide STD testing as well.
Many test providers sell their kits directly to consumers via their websites, and for most people, this will be the easiest method of ensuring they get exactly the test they need. As with any other type of health screening test, you should be sure that you fully understand what’s being tested before you buy, but buying direct from test providers often means you can get access to expanded panels of tests or even individual test types that aren’t available in brick-and-mortar stores.
Generally, the testing process is the same regardless of how you buy an at-home STD test kit, but the convenience of buying online means you don’t have to worry that the test you need isn’t in stock and you can have it delivered straight to your home without the potential discomfort involved in buying an STD test in a store.
Some test providers also sell their products on Amazon, though to ensure you’re getting the best selection, it’s usually best to buy directly from the test provider’s website.
The prevalence of several common sexually transmitted diseases is on the rise, but still far too few Americans are getting screened for these infections. In fact, according to federal data released in 2019, fewer than 1 in 3 people at the highest risk level for contracting HIV have ever had a test for the virus.
Today, there is absolutely no reason not to find out your sexually transmitted infection status, as the widespread availability of at-home STD kits allows you to submit your sample from the privacy of your own home.
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Trends in seroprevalence of herpes simplex virus type 2 among non-Hispanic blacks and non-Hispanic whites aged 14 to 49 years--United States, 1988 to 2010. (2013.) Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24113408
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, HIV, Statistics Center, HIV in the United States and Dependent Areas. (2019.) Retrieved from https://www.cdc.gov/hiv/statistics/overview/ataglance.html
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Most Americans Have Never Had an HIV Test, New Data Show. (2019.) Retrieved from https://www.cdc.gov/nchhstp/newsroom/2019/NHTD-2019-press-release.html