“TakeMeHome” Asks App Users to “Swab Right” for Free STD and HIV Home Test Kits

For Immediate Release: March 15, 2021
Contact: Jen Hecht, jhecht@sfaf.org

A unique partnership of HIV and STD prevention organizations and dating apps today announced the launch of a free STD test kit home delivery program.

“TakeMeHome” has already distributed more than 5000 HIV test kits in eight states around the US. It is now expanding its program to include test kits for syphilis, gonorrhea, chlamydia.

“April is National STD Awareness Month, and a reminder that we urgently need to get STD tests to people who need them, rather than expect them to come to a doctor’s office or clinic to get tested,” said TakeMeHome’s creator, Jen Hecht. Hecht is the co-founder of Building Healthy Online Communities, a coalition of public health organizations working with dating apps to prevent the transmission of HIV and STD infections.  State and local health jurisdictions now have a one-stop shop to purchase and distribute test kits through BHOC, in collaboration with NASTAD, to provide a streamlined way for them to transfer the funds necessary in order to pay for the kits.

“TakeMeHome is more important than ever because so many HIV and STD health departments have redeployed staff to fight COVID-19, and the vast majority of sexual health clinics have had to reduce hours or close,” she continued.

Several private companies provide home test kits, but many charge hundreds of dollars, which makes them out of reach for many people who need them. By working with health departments to provide them for free, TakeMeHome can get more tests to people who need them the most.

To request a kit throughTakeMeHome.org, users fill out a brief eligibility questionnaire, and enter an address where they want the kit to be sent.  Eligible users will be sent a discreet package containing swabs, a fingerstick, and a card for collecting their samples, as well as resources and instructions on what to do if they find out their test results are positive.  For lab-based testing, users create an account, collect and mail back their specimens, and sign back into the portal four to five days later to get their results. Users who are not eligible will be given information on where to get a free test in a clinic near them, and where to get condoms and medication that can prevent new infections.

In April, TakeMeHome will launch a Spanish language version as well.  TakeMeHome can also support PrEP users, who need regular monitoring.

Grindr and other dating apps, such as SCRUFF, Jack’d, Manhunt, and Adam4Adam are promoting the test kits to their users.

“We at Grindr are proud to be a major partner of TakeMeHome and promote it to our users” said Grindr’s Alex Black, Director of Marketing. “We know that encouraging our users to get tested for both HIV and other STDs is a crucial step in promoting our community’s health.”

“Sexual health is something we all need, but for many people there’s so much stigma about it,” said Ina Park, an STD clinician and researcher and the author of the recently-released book, “Strange Bedfellows:  Adventures in the Science, History, and Surprising Secrets of STDs.” “TakeMeHome makes sexual health care more accessible by making getting a test as easy as ordering take-out.”

Dr. Stephanie Cohen, Medical Director at San Francisco’s City Clinic, which is participating in TakeMeHome, praised the project. “Regular testing is one of the most important tools we have for reducing HIV and STD transmission,” she said. “Public health and dating apps working together to make it accessible to more people makes total sense.”