Alaskan tribal group offers free home tests for sexually transmitted infections
BETHEL – An Alaskan indigenous health entity is providing free home test kits to detect sexually transmitted infections in an effort to provide better access to testing and reduce stigma for people who want to be tested.
The goal of this effort is to make it easier and more discreet to find and treat infections, Hanna Warren, head of infection prevention with the Alaska Native Tribal Health Consortium, told KYUK Public Media.
The tests are important because Alaska has the highest rate of chlamydia in the United States and the second highest rate of gonorrhea in the country, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
The self-swab tests will allow single people to detect conditions plus trichomoniasis, which are all curable, Warren said. IST kits are available at iwantthekit.org. The consortium also offers a separate free test for HIV, available at iknowmine.org.
In the Yukon-Kuskokwim Delta region of southwest Alaska, the only way to get tested in a village before was to use a community health assistant at a local clinic that those tested likely knew about. . People can also go to the central Bethel community for a test, but the chances of meeting someone they know there are also high.
“It can be nerve-racking to go to someone you know who is a local health assistant or a local nurse – maybe it’s your cousin, your aunt, your uncle, maybe it’s your cousin, your aunt, your uncle. – be your mother, father, sister, brother, uncle or even grandmother – and ask them to be tested for HIV or STIs, ”said Warren.
The consortium will offer the self-swab testing to anyone with an address in Alaska or using a PO box in Alaska. Partners in the program are the Alaska Department of Health and Human Services and Johns Hopkins University.
The consortium will connect people who test positive with medical professionals, Warren said.
Sexually active people over the age of 13 should get tested about once every three months, she said.