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back to article Hounslow tries STD test result texts

NHS Hounslow is using the internet and text messaging to encourage more young people to be screened for chlamydia. The west London primary care trust has launched an online service to enable Hounslow residents aged between 16 and 24 to request free, painless self-testing kits. The results can then be sent back by text message. …

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nothing new

in Norwich you have been able to get the results of a test by txt for over 1 1/2 years and i, because im between 18 and 24 have had a letter saying you can get sent a test by txt. never used the service, i play it safe.

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Might work

While home testing kits are a good idea a lot of NHS Trusts could do more to help treatment. The majority of UI clinics have restricted opening hours for example. Personally, if I received a SMS from someone suggesting that I get a STD self-testing kit I might be a bit annoyed at the inference that I am carrying a disease. So there is a risk that the message could backfire a touch, or someone gets on their religious high horse about it and says it insults their purer-than pure lifestyle. Mind you, if you're male then Chlamydia is pretty hard to ignore - it does say hello in rather an obvious way - so if you need a text to say that the blob on your knob ain't normal you're not really paying much attention to your personal health. For females of course many STDs are much less visual, but such diseases are still rather taboo to discuss openly.

Most people who do get infected never discuss the problem for fear they will be branded for life as a pox-carrier, even though they're treatable and are wiped out with antibiotics. And that's a mindset which, as a society, we should be trying to change.

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Not automated

Well done

Round of applause for decent decision !!!

Stuff like this should not really be automated !

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Anonymous Coward

nothing new

I had a test for chlamydia last year in South West England and opted to be sent the result by text message.

What's the big deal?

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Paris Hilton

NHS Information Governance ?

Cool, Hounslow PCT, got their asses kicked by the information comissioner in March 2008 for failing in their responsibilities under the Freedom of information act..

They have now set up a non-secure website, using a non nhs web address into which you can enter person identifiable information.

For good measure the website does not have not have any listed privacy statement (translation - we can sell your name and address to anybody we want).

Looks like time for the information comissioner to go knocking on their door again.

Paris - Cos even she isn't that dumb!

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Subheading of the week!

This one gets my vote.

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@AC "Subheading of the week!"

Indeed, although I think they should have added a "lol" at the end for good measure.

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Stop

swab sample!!

If they mean that in the way I've been swab sampled at the clinic before then I can't imagine many people who will opt for doing that at home!!

Ouch, just thinking about it makes my toes curl....

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Anonymous Coward

@DaveT "@AC "Subheading of the week!" "

what ac is that aimed at? me or the other one?

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aren't text messages fire and forget

ie, sending the message does not 100% guarantee that someone will recieve it. while thats perfectly acceptable for normal messages, if you're using it for something important like notifying someone of a disease, doesn't that small risk of non-delivery become a bigger issue.

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@sooty

You can request delivery reports and therefore know whether your messages have been received.

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Has been done for a while

Bolton GUM send results via text message, although I believe if you're unlucky the message you get is 'please make an appointment' rather than the one I've always had (thank &deity;) which is 'your results were negative'

It's a good idea to encourage people into their local STI/GUM clinic; unfortunately it's still a long way short of where things need to be. Gonorrhea and Syphilis are becoming increasingly more common and Hepatitis B can be very easy to catch, even if it's the opinion of the clinics that you need to be a MSM (a man who has sex with men) to be at risk (they don't offer the vaccination to exclusively MSW/WSM, and there is still a widespread underfunding for the sexual health of women who have sex with women; some people still believe this carries no risks..)

Not to mention that obviously after age 24 you're either completely educated in STIs (hohoho) or in a monogamous long term risk free relationship. I understand the risk for the over 50s is actually increasing somewhat..

I agree with Pete James that it's a subject that is almost impossible to discuss with a general group of people. All STIs are seen as the same, when they are patently not, and that there is such a thing as safe sex - there isn't - there's only reduced risk.

Everyone who's had a change of partner or is exposed to other risk factors should be tested every six months; that's the exception rather than the rule for most people.

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Wrong Number

I can see it now . Your girl is playing with your phone and the text comes in. You've got the clap try explain they got the wrong number ..

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Anonymous Coward

@ John Woods

delivery reports for SMS are all well and good, but when you get a pending status for one which has been delivered (and you know it got there because the other person has replied), or even better, when your other half nearly tears you a new ar5ehole because you didn't reply to the SMS which their phone says was delivered and never actually got to you, then, AND ONLY THEN, will you realise that the delivery reports on your phone are not necessarily reliable.

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Some confusion here...

Clinics (off all sorts, not just Sexual Health) have been sending results and appointment reminders by text for some years. The innovation here is that you can use a text to REQUEST a test kit. These are currently free at testing centres (some of which are mobile and visit clubs, pub, colleges etc) but you do have to pluck up the courage to say to another person "I want a chlamydia test kit". This service removes that difficulty.

Oh, and Pete James "if you're male then Chlamydia is pretty hard to ignore - it does say hello in rather an obvious way" - fraid not. It's often either totally asymptomatic, or gives short-lived symptoms only, see, for example, http://www.nhs.uk/Conditions/Chlamydia/Pages/Symptoms.aspx?url=Pages/What-is-it.aspx

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I pointed this out to a colleague who works in a sexual health clinic

She says "Sexual Health and HIV medicine services have been using texts for results for at least three years - with delivery rates of over 95% in our service. This is far better at actually getting the test results to people than mail-risk of being opened by nosy parents if you still live at home- or relying on busy young people to remember to ring back in for results.

If people change/lose their mobile or the number is incorrectly recorded there is a small risk of someone not getting the message or it being read by someone else- which is why we don't specify any clinical details in the text and ask people to ring back in if they don't hear from us within a certain time.

Several areas around the country have been running web-based requesting of kits for some time. And agree with Dr Harkin- most guys and girls would not know they had chlamydia which is why the screening kits are so needed!"

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