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Why Self-Screening for STIs Could Do More Harm than Good

A Broadly investigation has discovered at least two websites are exploiting a legal loophole to import questionable HIV and STI tests into New Zealand and Australia.

by Michelle Duff
24 February 2017, 12:52am

Doing your own STI test at home is a tempting thought: No waiting room, no doctor—just you, your vagina, and a test kit. After that, it's a walk to the post box and a click on a website or app for results. 

But all tests are not created equal, and a top Australasian microbiologist has warned that the worst can be inaccurate, misleading, and a cause for unnecessary upset. 

In fact, "I'm very close to having an apoplexy over it," says Dr Collette Bromhead, a medical laboratory scientist with 20 years' experience in molecular diagnostics. "These tests seem to be a money-making scheme that exploit the well and the well-off."

A Broadly investigation has discovered at least two websites—run by the same company, Head Start Testing—are exploiting a legal loophole to import questionable HIV and STI tests into Australia and New Zealand. 

The websites, HIV/STD Testing Australia and STD Testing New Zealand, are the top google search results for the term "at-home STI kits" in both countries.

But enquiries reveal the tests, billed as "98-99 percent accurate" at detecting sexually transmitted infections, are not medically approved for sale in either country. 

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