In an effort to help young people in the state of Maryland who had limited or stigmatized access to sexual healthcare, researchers at Johns-Hopkins developed an at-home STI screening kit program called "I Want The Kit" in 2009. Now, six years later, a study published in Sexually Transmitted Infections finds that the six-question quiz that went along with the screening kit was actually accurate in predicting whether or not women had an STI (though it was not as accurate, or predictive, for men).
The study sent the risk assessment quiz to 3,200 people in Maryland, and about half agreed to take it — 830 females and 550 males averaging between 20 to 24 years old. Each of the questions, which ranged from condom use, to past STI history, to number of sex partners, was weighted differently to give participants a score on a 10-point risk scale.
For women, a score of 8-10 was considered a high risk, a score of 5-7 was considered a medium risk, and a score of 0-4 points was considered a low risk. Not everyone who took the quiz also sent in a vaginal/rectal/penile swab sample to get tested, but of the women who did, the study found, those who scored "high risk" were four times more likely to have an STI, and those who scored "medium risk" were two times more likely to have an STI.
When speculating why the quiz was less predictive for men, the study's lead author and Doctor of Public Health Charlotte Gaydos cited "untruthfulness" as a possible explanation.
The other glaring problem with the quiz is that it assumes the sexually active person is engaging in sex involving a penis. While the kit is limited in only testing for gonorrhea, chlamydia, and trichomoniasis, the quiz doesn't offer the latitude to answer questions regarding vulva to vulva contact (which can spread trich), nor does the kit culture throat swabs, which are necessary for detecting oral/anal gonorrhea and chlamydia in women who give oral sex to other women, or share sex toys. In fact, even gynecologists only culture throat/rectal swabs for gonorrhea and chlamydia if you tell them you are a women who has sex with women and specifically ask for it. Most women don't even know to ask.
You can try taking the I Want The Kit quiz yourself here, but can only order the at-home screening kit if you live in the states of Maryland, Alaska, or in Washington, DC.
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Images: Andrew Zaeh/Bustle; Screencap/I Want The Kit