Nurx Expands Its Services To Include At-Home STD Testing

Nurx, a health-tech startup known for selling birth control through the Internet and sending them to patients’ doors, is going even further by offering something new. That something new? At –home sexually transmitted disease kits for chlamydia and gonorrhea.

Depending on the type of infection a person has, Nurx can treat individuals. The kits, which include testing and treatment, will be ready sometime in June.

The Nurx STI kits are coming at a time where there’s a growing concern about the uncontrollable spread of STIs. In 2017, the CDC said there were 2.3 million new cases of chlamydia, syphilis and gonorrhea. CDC Dr. Jonathan Mermin said the current systems to find, treat and stop the spread of STDs are near their breaking points. The CDC said each of these diseases can be treated with antibiotics, but the problem is that most people are never diagnosed until it’s too late – when they begin to suffer from other health problems.

Nurx’s Tests Will Be The Company’s First

Nurx, which was founded in 2014 and is based in San Francisco, offers doctor-prescribed treatments such as PrEP, a preventative HIV medication. The company provides its services online, earning the nickname of being Uber for birth control.

The company has raised close to $42 million from investors and has a value of around $11 million. There are over 200,000 patients using the services, and it’s become one of the Internet’s top providers for PrEP and birth control.

Nurx’s expansion is the company’s first move since the recent New York Times report about the company cutting corners to quickly grow. According to that report, the company’s cut corners are affecting patient care. Nurx denied there were any safety issues to its patients, and gave examples of the unclear context in the report.

Varsha Rao, Nurex CEO, said the direction was one on his first decisions made to move the company forward. He said it was only fitting that the company offers the service so patients could get their most delicate healthcare needs addressed.

Nurex, which operates in 25 states and the D.C. area, will offer the STI tests and treatments in every location. The company does accept health insurance, but the tests will cost $50 with insurance and anywhere from $140 to $210 without it for any of the three testing kits.

Nurex’s rival LetsGetChecked has STD testing kits that cost anywhere from $99 to $299 depending on the number of diseases a person wants to be tested for.

The CDC’s recommendation is that people get tested for STDs once a year. However, if a person engages in high-risk behaviors or has a new partner, the agency recommends continuous testing. The CDC said there are numerous low-cost to fee clinic testing and companies that offer at-home STD tests such as Nurex and LetsGetChecked.

How Do The Tests Work?

People interested in a Nurx test will need to make out a request for one and complete a survey that asks about their medical history. The website will help customers find the right test based on their past sexual history, as infections such as gonorrhea can originate anywhere such as the anus, throat, penis and vagina.

The survey will also ask about HIV exposure risk, which is when the case is then directed to its in-person medical staff Nurx VP of Clinical Services Jessica Horwitz.

After a person orders a test, they will receive a kit via postal mail along with instructions. The test will include a mixture of the following:

  • Blood collection
  • Throat swab
  • Rectal swab
  • Urine sample

Once the samples are sent back, a Nurx lab partner will conduct the testing. A medical practitioner will call customers about their results and treatment options (if necessary).

The company offers three types of tests:

Full Control – Comprehensive test for chlamydia and gonorrhea in three places as well as Hepatitis C, HIV and Syphilis. This test should be taken every year and cost $50 with insurance and $210 without it.

Healthy Woman – This kit tests for the common STDs that affect women such as HIV, trichomoniasis, chlamydia and gonorrhea (both in two places). The cost is $50 with insurance and $180 without any.

Basics Covered – This kit is ideal for people who want to get tested regularly, testing for gonorrhea, chlamydia, HIV and syphilis. Its cost is $50 with insurance and $140 without any insurance.

Patients will send the tests back in the bio-hazard bag sent with their package.

For those with a positive result, the company can treat common STDs with antibiotics. Other positive test results, such as HIV will be referred to in-person treatment.

Written by Mark Riegel, MD

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