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Company offers online STD tests in age of dating apps

A California firm is offering a testing service for sexually-transmitted diseases that can be ordered online and done in the privacy of your own home, CBS San Francisco reports.

Los Angeles-based myLAB Box says it's the first nationwide testing service of its kind. Its motto: "Safe is sexy."

STDs are at an all-time high in the U.S., according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The increase in STDs mirrors the growing popularity of dating apps among millennials, and some experts believe there is a connection between the two.

Marin County OB/GYN Dr. Lizellen La Follette says California is seeing an alarming jump in new cases of chlamydia, gonorrhea, and syphilis, which have also been rising nationwide.

One main reason is fewer millennials are practicing safe sex and using condoms.

New sex ed guidelines 00:45

"They connect online, they meet, they may be mutually monogamous for a brief period of time and then they move on," La Follette said. "And I think that whole interaction comes with the consequences of transmission."

myLAB Box markets itself as the online remedy to the problems linked to online dating.

"No longer do you have to suffer through the embarrassment or awkward conversations with clinicians or your doctor about your sexual health," said myLAB Box CEO Ursula Hessenflow.

Everything can be done online: from ordering the test to a free phone consultation with a medical doctor about your results to getting a prescription phoned in to your pharmacy.

Los Angeles-based myLAB Box lets you test for STDs at home. myLAB

Hessenflow explained that since millennials tend to live their lives online, an online STD testing service seems natural.

"What we've done is taken those same tools, and made it very easy for someone to test at home privately, affordably conveniently on their own time," she said.

Customers can order up to 15 different STD tests online and within days a package arrives in the mail. Tests use a swab, urine sample or blood prick.

"It's very simple," said Hessenflow. "So, it averages five minutes or less to test."

The samples are mailed back in the self-addressed envelope provided and the lab-certified results are sent electronically within a few days.

"If there is a positive, we immediately connect you with a phone consult with a local physician and with common infections they can give you a same-day prescription," said Hessenflow.

San Francisco residents Alexandra Daigle and her partner Erik Kahn love the idea. "If someone wants to be secretive about it they can order it at home and they don't have to wait at a doctor's office for hours and hours," Daigle told CBS San Francisco.

"It's really expensive to live here. So, you know, one of the options for us is working more. We're working almost seven days a week," added Kahn. "So for us, it can be great just to have that option of not having to take off work."

La Follette sees the benefit but is also concerned about a revolving door of infection. "Positive test. Treated. Positive test. Treated. Right. So where's the connection?" she mused.

La Follette says millennials need to hook up with a doctor to come up with long-term plan not to get infected. She noted some STDs are life-threatening. Others can leave you infertile.

"How are we going to protect you when you come to me at 38 and 'I want my first baby' and you can't get pregnant?" said La Follette.

Hessenflow said the doctor consultation included with the testing service usually includes discussion of safe-sex practices as well as a recommendation to follow up with your personal physician.

The cost depends on how many tests are ordered. It ranges from $79 to the deluxe "Love Box" which costs about $500 and will test both you and your partner. 

Gift certificates are available and the service accepts FSA/HSA cards.

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