With STI Cases Rising, Preventx Enters US Market

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A new remote sexual health testing provider is available to US public health officials. It aims to reduce the increasing spread of sexually transmitted infections.

3-D illustration of a syphilis pathogen  (Adobe Stock 211998563 by Christoph Burgstedt)

3-D illustration of a syphilis pathogen

(Adobe Stock 211998563 by Christoph Burgstedt)

With sexually transmitted infections (STIs) spreading more rapidly in the United States within the last few years, rapid and more accurate testing is needed. This week at the 2023 STI and HIV 2023 World Congress, Preventx announced it will make its solutions available to the public health departments in the United States by opening a specialized lab in Cincinnati, Ohio. With this new lab, the US can help control the ever-increasing STI and HIV spread.

With 15 years of experience and real-world results, Preventx operates more than 60 large-scale programs in the UK, including the National Hepatitis C testing program and Sexual Health London (www.shl.uk). This is the largest publicly funded remote sexual health testing program in the world. Preventx offers the best of both worlds—the convenience and accessibility of digital services combined with the expertise and reliability of in-person clinical care.

"Just as we have seen in the UK and Europe, the US is experiencing a huge surge in STIs in the post-COVID era, and Preventx is excited to be entering this space to help the US. Public Health departments fight this crisis,” John White, MD, Medical Director of Preventx and NHS sexual health consultant, told Infection Control Today®. “One of the pillars of combatting STIs is to increase STI testing. Our extensive experience and track record in the UK show that remote STI testing is an effective and efficient way to help reach as many people as possible, particularly those who can't or won't access clinic-based services. We are confident that this innovative approach will help the US fight back against the ongoing spread of STIs and reduce preventable harms for those affected."

Reported cases of STIs have increased at least since 2020, and the budget limitations in public health initiatives add to the possible public health crisis. The press release about the announcement discusses the need for this move to the US. According to the “CDC surveillance data, more than 2.5 million reported cases of chlamydia, gonorrhea, and syphilis were reported in the U.S. in 2021, and all increased between 2020 and 2021. To reverse this trend, the CDC called for more groups to contribute to STI prevention and innovation efforts, with testing at the center of the prevention strategies. Additionally, through the Ending the HIV Epidemic (EHE) initiative, the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) has set an ambitious goal of reducing all new HIV infections in the US by 90% by 2030.”

In the press release, Barbara Van Der Pol, PhD, MPH, Preventx laboratory director, said, “The COVID-19 pandemic led to disruptions in STI-related prevention and care activities and brought the realities of our strained public health infrastructure to light. We also learned that remote testing is a viable strategy that gives people, no matter where they live, greater access to prevention methods, and overall health care."

Testing approaches that rely on in-person clinic visits are limited in their effectiveness if they do not reach at-risk or underserved populations. Because the Preventx combined digital platform and remote testing approach can help public health decision-makers reach difficult-to-reach groups, the company can help more patients.

Some people are uncomfortable visiting a clinic, have scheduling difficulties, or are without easy access to a clinic. By assisting them remotely, Preventx reduces the number of patients needing to physically visit a clinic, leaving health care providers to better attend to those with more complex needs, those who cannot use online testing, or who prefer in-person care.

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