Planned Parenthood of Los Angeles County announced a new pilot program last week in which Long Beach residents will be eligible to participate: a new phone application that allows users to test for sexually transmitted diseases and seek treatment without visiting a health center.
The app, called Planned Parenthood Direct, is free and focuses specifically on chlamydia and gonorrhea, the two most common STDs in LA County. It is only available in California.
“We are super excited about this,” said PPLA Director of Communications and Marketing Amy Rosenfeld. She said there are other sites that enable users to test for STDs, but don’t allow them to seek treatment through a mobile device. “It’s a first step for Planned Parenthood and the future of health care.”
Through the app, users can order a test kit for $149 that will arrive at the individual’s door in “discreet packaging” with simple instructions. The participant is required to send a urine sample to a Planned Parenthood lab, and receives the results through the application portal.
If positive, the user can receive information on how to obtain treatment. Rosenfeld said that within an hour of diagnosis, an individual can call the order in to a pharmacy, bypassing an often inconvenient and stigmatized visit to see a doctor.
It works “like a messaging app,” said Rosenfeld.
“When it comes to testing, there is still an unfortunate stigma around it,” Rosenfeld said. “This app could remove that barrier.”
Currently no insurance is accepted for treatment, and the user is expected to pay out of pocket. However, Rosenfeld said this should change as the service moves forward.
“Online services are the future of health care—and while little has been done in this are with regards to sexual and reproductive health care, PPLA is determined to fill that gap and lead the way with innovative health care solutions,” said PPLA President and CEO Sue Dunlap in a statement.
“There’s a lot of trust and care behind this app that makes it unique,” said Rosenfeld. “If positive, individuals are always welcome to walk into a Planned Parenthood Center [as well].”
According to the LA County Department of Public Health, cases of chlamydia have increased by nearly 10 percent from 2009 to 2013, and gonorrhea increased by 47 percent in the same time period. The 47 percent increase is lower than the 60 percent increase that occurred statewide.
Planned Parenthood has 20 health care centers in LA County, including three in or near Long Beach:
- Planned Parenthood Long Beach, 2690 Pacific Avenue, Suite 370, Long Beach CA 90806
- Planned Parenthood Lakewood, 5525 East Del Amo Boulevard, Lakewood, CA 90713
- Planned Parenthood Basics (fast track services), 5519 East Del Amo Boulevard, Lakewood, CA 90713
To locate a center, click here or call 1-800-576-5544.
This story was updated on 06/24/15 at 11:01AM clarifying the cost of the app.