February 26, 2024
  • Redwood City – San Mateo County residents may participate in a free screening program for sexually transmitted infections (STIs), which offers in-home test kits through the mail and on online portal for confidential access to test results and other information.

    Working with the California Department of Public Health, San Mateo County Health is participating in the TakeMeHome program, which allows eligible residents to receive free test kits, collect specimens, return them by mail and then see the test results in a secure portal.

    Kits are available to screen for HIV, gonorrhea, chlamydia, syphilis and hepatitis C.

    Like the results of STI tests completed by local labs, test results from TakeMeHome are shared with County Health. For follow up, County Health may contact residents to answer questions and provide information about next steps for treatment, if needed.

    The TakeMeHome program makes the full resources of testing laboratories and patient support from the local health department available to residents in the privacy of their homes. It was developed as a collaboration among Emory University, the National Alliance of State & Territorial AIDS Directors and Building Healthy Online Communities, a consortium of public health leaders and gay dating website and app owners who are working together to support HIV and STI prevention online.

    Fourteen counties in California are currently participating in the program.

    Sexually transmitted infections have been increasing steadily in California and across the nation in recent years. According to data from County Health’s STI/HIV Program, as of the third quarter of 2023, compared to the previous year, local cases of chlamydia increased 11 percent in men and 7 percent in women for a total of 1,995 cases. Gonorrhea increased 11 percent in men and 5 percent in women (704 total cases). Total syphilis cases increased by 3 percent, compared to this time last year.

    Late testers – persons who receive an AIDS diagnosis within one year of an HIV diagnosis – were 16.4 percent of   the county’s newly reported HIV cases in 2022 and 20.4 percent of newly reported HIV cases in 2021.

    TakeMeHome is part of a tool kit that includes HIV PrEP, which is an antiviral medicine to reduce the chances of getting HIV from sex or injection drug use, and doxy PEP, which provides antibiotics after sex to prevent STIs.

    “Getting tested for STIs is essential to maintaining good heath overall. STIs including HIV can be effectively prevented,” said Dr. Vivian Levy, County Health’s STI control officer. “The TakeMeHome program makes testing very easy, offers important information in the process, is available in Spanish and can be completed in the privacy of one’s home.”

    In addition to participating in the TakeMeHome program, County Health’s STI/HIV program offers low-cost in-person testing without appointments at its Edison STI Clinic at 222 W 39th Avenue in San Mateo. Drop-in testing is available on Tuesdays and Thursdays from 4–7:00 p.m. Drop-in visits for individuals who have STI symptoms or for treatment of a confirmed positive STI are available on a first-come, first-served basis on Thursdays from 4–6:30 p.m.

    Residents may start the process to order test kits at takemehome.org. An online questionnaire will determine eligibility. The site also offers instructional videos about how to collect various types of samples and resources for further information.

    Media Contact

    Preston Merchant
    County Health Communications Officer