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San Mateo County Offers Free STI Test Kits as STIs Rise in California

San Mateo County Offers Free STI Test Kits as STIs Rise in California
STI testing is offered in San Mateo, through the TakeMeHome program, which allows eligible residents to receive free test kits, collect samples, return them by mail, and then view test results in a secure portal.

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San Mateo County residents can participate in a free sexually transmitted infection (STI) screening program, which offers at-home testing kits by mail and on an online portal for confidential access to test results and other information.

In collaboration with the California Department of Public Health, San Mateo County Health participates in the program TakeMeHome, which allows eligible residents to receive free test kits, collect samples, return them by mail, and then view test results in a secure portal.

Kits are available to detect HIV, gonorrhea, chlamydia, syphilis and hepatitis C.

Like STI test results performed by local laboratories, TakeMeHome test results are shared with County Health to track and communicate with residents to answer questions and provide information about next steps for treatment, if required.

The TakeMeHome program makes all of the local health department's testing lab and patient support resources available to residents in the privacy of their homes. 

Currently, fourteen California counties participate in the program.

Sexually transmitted infections have been steadily increasing in California and across the country in recent years. According to data from the County Health STI/HIV Program, as of the third quarter of 2023, compared to the previous year, local cases of chlamydia increased 11 percent in men and 7 percent in women for a total of 1,995 cases. 

On the other hand, gonorrhea increased 11 percent in men and 5 percent in women (704 cases in total); while total syphilis cases increased 3 percent, compared to this time last year.

Late testers (people who receive an AIDS diagnosis within one year of an HIV diagnosis) accounted for 16.4 percent of new HIV cases reported in the county in 2022 and 20.4 percent of new HIV cases reported in 2021.

?Getting tested for STIs is essential to maintaining good overall health. Can STIs, including HIV, be effectively prevented? said Dr. Vivian Levy, STI control officer for the County Health Department. “The TakeMeHome program makes testing very easy, offers important information in the process, is available in Spanish and can be completed in the privacy of your home.”

In addition to participating in the TakeMeHome program, County Health's STI/HIV program offers low-cost, walk-in testing at its Edison STI Clinic at 222 W 39th Avenue in San Mateo. Walk-in testing is available on Tuesdays and Thursdays from 4:00 p.m. to 7:00 p.m. 

Walk-ins for people who have STI symptoms or for treatment of a confirmed positive STI are available on a first-come, first-served basis on Thursdays from 4:00 p.m. to 6:30 p.m.

Residents can begin the process to request test kits at takemehome.org. An online questionnaire will determine eligibility.

 

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Pamela Cruz
Pamela Cruz
Editor-in-Chief of Peninsula 360 Press. A communicologist by profession, but a journalist and writer by conviction, with more than 10 years of media experience. Specialized in medical and scientific journalism at Harvard and winner of the International Visitors Leadership Program scholarship from the U.S. government.

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