Hula: Breaking New Ground in Sexual Health Testing
New technologies have made our lives easier in so many respects. Thanks to everything from Smartphones to iPods, BlueTooth devices to GPS, life is easier, more practical, safer. Yet technology is not just about music and visuals; lately, it is also about preserving our sexual health, with groundbreaking new Apps like Hula changing the way we receive and share information. Hula informs users of the nearest sexual health centers and permits them to quickly and easily download the results of sexual health tests. Additionally, the App allows users to share their information with others in a rather humorous way, through a screen featuring the image of a closed zipper. The user is invited to glide their finger along the zipper to open it, thus revealing information which may be of interest to their partner or friends. The App additionally invites users to share their views and ratings on different STD testing centers with other users, thus turning what is often considered a taboo subject into one of open discussion.
Hula Your Way to Greater Sexual Health
Hula (referred to by its developers as the App that “gets you lei’d”) is being hailed for its ingenuity, largely because it addresses so many flaws in the sexual health system. It is also a major improvement on previous attempts at addressing the issue of STDs through technology. For one, the language is much more accessible – e.g. instead of stating that a person is ‘non-reactive’ for a particular STD, which may not mean much to the average person on the street; the app states that the person is “negative” for this condition. Additionally, by gathering all results obtained from different STD centers, it allows users to actually view their results. When clients fail to return to clinics for their results, the norm is for the clinic to call clients who have positive results. It is easy to see how this system can lead to potential errors – staff may forget to call a client, files may be misplaced, clients can change their telephone numbers, etc.
The Hefty Price Paid for STDs
Two recent analyses released by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, have revealed that STDs pose a huge health and economic burden for men and women in the US, especially for the youth. These statistics, which were published in February this year, were based on data obtained in 2008. During this year, some 110 million STDs (or STIs, the ‘I’ standing for ‘Infection’) were detected in men and women in the US. Some 22.1 million of these diseases were suffered by young men and women aged between 15 and 24. The most common diseases contracted include chlamydia, gonorrhea, syphilis, herpes, hepatitis B, HIV, trichomoniasis and HPV, though AIDS and hepatitis, of course, can also be caught by sharing needles. The costs posed by these diseases are staggering, amounting to $15 billion for treating the 19.7 new infections which were contracted in 2008.
The Role We Play in Keeping STDs At Bay
Although all STDS are treatable, some cannot be cured and tend to recur in the future. The CDC recommends the use of a condom by men before having sex (including oral sex). Males and females ages under 26 should also consider opting for the HPV vaccine, which is recommended for children aged 11-12 and which has proven to be effective against the most common strains of HPV.
Hula is also hoping to help reduce the risk of contracting STDs for user who meet through online dating apps. The company recently announced that it would be collaborating with MISTER, a dating app for gay men. MISTER is already advertising Hula on its app, inviting users to obtain information on sexual health centers nearby and to share their results with friends, for a secure dating experience.
Hula users should be advised that the fact that a friend may have a negative result for all STDs does not mean they are free to toss caution to the wind, since the friend many have contracted the disease between the time the test was taken and the time they shared their information. The key is to exercise commonsense in the use of the App and to remember that prevention is better than cure.