It’s embarrassing and uncomfortable and we never think it can happen to us. But, 20 million new STIs occur every year in America, half of those among young people aged 15–24.
What happens in Vegas doesn’t stay in Vegas, that’s what one midwest doctor thought as he sat at a bar on the strip.
“We we’re sitting at a bar and saw people getting into trouble,” Dr. Segun Ishmael said while in Vegas for a conference.
This doctor wanted people to practice safe sex and during his startup ideation, he thought about putting a laptop on every bathroom in Las Vegas for people to check if they had STDs. He decided that this problem existed beyond the strip and maybe even in your average suburban neighborhood.
How Can a Doctor Diagnose Anonymous Patients Virtually?
In 2017, Dr, Segun Ishmael and his team developed and launched BeSafeMeds app in Illinois, Indiana, Missouri, Florida, and New Mexico, with plans to expand in 2018.
You don’t need insurance or a general doctor. This app is a step above WebMD.
BeSafeMeds helps sexually active people anonymously inquire about their STD symptoms and then a licensed medical professional will follow-up with a phone call. Based on the virtual appointment, the medial professional may prescribe a medication to the patient’s nearest pharmacy. This is a revolutionary way of treating common health issues such as Chlamydia and Gonorrhea.
The Rise of STDs:
The number of people with STDs is increasing. If you have 2-3 sexual partners in 6 months to a year you are at medium risk for STD’s, according to Dr. Segun Ishmael.
More than 200,000 people in the U.S. and America took a survey about their sexual health and partners, which disclosed that the average number of partners men and women have is about seven in their lifetime.
Talking about sex with your partner and being honest about your history is something we struggle with today. In a Refinery29 article, Lisa Thomas, LCSW, LMFT, a sex and relationships expert reveals the stigmas behind talking about sex, “Asking can be a way to get to know somebody, but basically what you’re looking for is whether or not this person is good in bed.”
Looking back at the 2017 SuperDrug survey, men tend to overestimate and women tend to be more honest – 17.5 percent of male respondents reported claiming more partners than they’ve had, while only 8.2 percent of women did the same.
The Dating App Hookup Culture:
One of the contributing factors to the rise in STDs is dating apps that make us aware of more single and available people in as little as a 1 mile radius.
“I’m going to Seattle,” Dr. Ish explains a common scenario, “I don’t know anyone. I can use an app. If we can make dating easier with swipe left and right, [our services] are the complement to that.”
In a recent Wall Street Journal article, “Cheap Sex and the Decline of Marriage,” one of the millennial men interviewed shared that at 24 years old, “…I am not done being stupid yet. I still want to go out and have sex with a million girls.”
The 5 Groups of People Interested in Checking For STDs Online:
To test their target market and user interest, they did a proof of concept in five states and had a social media presence on Instagram, Facebook and Twitter.
In their proof of concept, the team discovered five key target groups that were using their online STD portal. They included the LGBT community, college students and young professionals, a significant amount of middle aged female professionals, and then people who have mobile jobs like truckers who are on the road.
Since testing out their proof of concept, the app has plans to expand to 10 states with heavier marketing promotion on college campuses and bars.
Treating STD’s: Step 1 is Awareness
There are other ways that medical professionals are trying to make it easier for people to get tested and treated for STD’s like IWantThe Kit.org that provides free S.T.I. test kits to residents of Maryland and Washington, D.C..
It’s important to realize that as more people become sexually active and get treated, the population develops an antibiotic resistance. According to Center for Disease Control and Prevention, there are 820,000 new Gonorrhea cases every year in America and there is only one medication left that will cure it.
“The people who we treat are high-risk,” said Dr. Segun Ishmael, ” If they are low risk – you don’t have symptoms but are concerned – then you should get tested. Planned Parenthood is great for this.”