• Evaluation and enumeration of online test providers for sexually transmitted infections, specifically chlamydia, in the Netherlands.

      den Daas, Chantal; Sukel, Bob; Bos, Hanna; van den Broek, Ingrid (2019-01-22)
      Online testing for STIs might complement regular care provided by general practitioners or STI clinics. Two types of online testing can be distinguished, self-testing and self-sampling (sending sample to a laboratory for diagnosis). Online testing can occur without consultation with a healthcare professional, therefore information given by providers is essential for informed decision-making. We aimed to enumerate online test providers in the Netherlands focusing on chlamydia tests, to evaluate information using quality indicators and to gain insight on the proportion of online testing in the STI testing arena. We performed a systematic internet search to identify online STI test providers. Twenty quality indicators were evaluated on their websites; indicator scores were weighted by level of importance (expert opinion). High scoring providers were recommended, on the condition that the sensitivity and specificity of the test were above 95% and providers included a follow-up procedure in case of a positive result. Finally, providers were contacted to inquire about the number of sold tests, positivity rates and demographic characteristics of testers. Five out of 12 identified self-sample test providers could be recommended, versus zero out of eight self-test providers. Self-sample test providers gave complete and correct information on more indicators (67%) compared with self-test providers (38%). In 2015, an estimated 30 000-40 000 self-sample tests were purchased, and 12 000-25 000 self-tests, which is roughly 10%-15% of the total number of STI tests. This evaluation shows that some online self-sample test providers could be put forward as way of STI testing complementing regular testing options. None of the self-test providers were recommended. Regularly evaluating online test providers is advised to improve quality of the information on the websites. Finally, self-testing might not be suited for all populations as most information is provided in written format only.