Get tested, starting at home: Quest launches direct ordering of STD diagnostic kits

test tubes
Completing the tests still requires walking in to one of Quest’s patient service centers. (Pixabay)

Quest Diagnostics has launched three new test kits for sexually transmitted diseases that consumers can order and purchase online directly, within the privacy of their own home.

Research has shown that many people and some providers are reluctant to discuss STD screening and disease risks. Quest aims to circumvent this through its QuestDirect program, with its first at-home tests covering the most prevalent STDs in the U.S.—including HIV, hepatitis B and C, syphilis, gonorrhea, chlamydia and trichomonas—and starting at $49 for an individual test.

Completing the tests, however, still requires walking in to one of Quest’s patient service centers, including some in grocery stores and retail locations. The kits are now available in the continental U.S., with results available online typically within one week, the company said.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, rates of syphilis, gonorrhea and chlamydia have risen for at least four years, with nearly 2.3 million STD cases in 2017. This includes one-in-four sexually active adolescents, with still more cases possibly not presenting symptoms.

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"Greater access to accurate testing, diagnoses, and treatment is particularly critical in sexual and reproductive health, where medications can often quickly cure many common STDs," said Cathy Doherty, Quest’s group executive for clinical franchise solutions and marketing.

After consumers select their own lab tests online, licensed physicians provide clinical oversight and order the tests. They can also evaluate and discuss the results, as well as recommend any follow-up treatments.

Launched last November, the company’s QuestDirect program now offers more than 35 individual tests and packages, covering general health, infectious diseases and men's and women's health, as well as kits aimed at digestive and cardiovascular health.

In addition, Quest has expanded its work with Safeway and Walmart, installing 200 of the company’s over 2,200 service centers in their locations.