RE: Less questions, more testing

Dear Ottawa Public Health,

I'm writing in regards to STI (sexually transmitted infection) testing in the city of Ottawa. To increase testing rates, I propose the that Ottawa Public Health facilitate a hassle free/no questions asked option for the standard set of HIV, gonorrhea, chlamydia, and syphilis screenings.

I applaud Ottawa's availability of anonymous HIV testing, but bacterial STIs also compromise public health by appearing asymptomatically and spreading rapidly. Increasing testing rates for bacterial STIs would mean more effective treatment and containment.

If the purpose of gathering sexual histories is to track how infections are spread, then this inquiry is more efficiently placed within the processes of treatment. Collecting sexual histories post-diagnosis, cuts paperwork and creates and impetus for more accurate data collection.

If you've contracted an STI, your previous partners need to be contacted. This point in the process is where sexual histories should be collected. STI transmission data would be sourced from those with a vested interested (the health of their sexual partners) in accurately disclosing their sexual histories. Further, public health authorities already provide third party services to anonymously inform sexual partners or diagnosed patients of their risk and testing options.

So many people lie during the collection of sexual histories. I definitely glossed over some details of a particularly promiscuous Summer.. Imagine the disincentive to give an accurate sexual history if you were a closet-case or sex worker (or both).

The fewer questions asked, the more people will get tested. A no questions asked STI testing option reduces social barriers to testing and re-positions the collection of sexual history in a way that improves the quality of data on STI transmission.