AUSTIN, Texas--(BUSINESS WIRE)--Everlywell, a leading digital healthcare company that provides convenient, affordable, and personalized support for health and wellness, today released key findings from a survey of 1,000 Americans (ages 18-35) detailing how sex lives have changed in the last two years, including specific changes related to dating, testing, prevention, and overall sexual health.
“Americans have found themselves in a uniquely challenging position of navigating an STI epidemic and the COVID-19 pandemic all at once,” said Dr. Liz Kwo, Chief Medical Officer of Everly Health. “In fact, a report found that nearly all STI testing programs were shut down or forced to reduce services for a period during the last two years, which means we may see STI prevalence continue to exceed the already unprecedented rates highlighted in the CDC’s 2020 surveillance report released earlier this year.”
The Current STI Epidemic
Amidst skyrocketing STI transmission rates and an ongoing pandemic, Americans have faced significant barriers in getting tested for sexually transmitted infections, including reduced options for testing, high costs, lack of time, fears about privacy, and more.
- Why not get tested? One out of five sexually active respondents reported not getting tested at all, citing issues such as cost, lack of access, lack of time, and discomfort visiting a testing site as key barriers.
- STIs were up, testing sites were down. STIs are on an unprecedented rise, constituting a national epidemic. With a two year lag in reportable CDC data and “almost all” STI testing programs having shut down or forced to reduce services at some point during the pandemic, even higher rates may be on the horizon.
- Impact for women: Eight out of ten women had not been tested for HPV and more than half had not been tested for chlamydia and gonorrhea, leaving them at risk for infertility and certain cancers.
Squashing the Stigma
Fortunately, Everlywell’s State of Sex (SOS) report found that young people are no longer afraid to talk about STIs. Here’s how they are navigating conversations in today’s world:
- Let’s talk it out: One out of three respondents reported asking more questions designed to reduce sexual health risk since March 2020, such as questions about STIs and STI testing status.
- Getting serious: Three in ten reported being more selective about sexual partners since the pandemic began. Similarly, three in ten reported being more ready to settle down than pre-pandemic.
Beyond opening more honest dialogue when it comes to sexual health, the report found that people are taking preemptive strikes against STIs:
- When testing is part of getting ready to go out: One in four reported getting STI tested after a sexual encounter and one in four reported getting STI tested before a sexual encounter.
- Telehealth and at-home testing have changed the game: Of respondents who reported getting tested more frequently in the last two years, almost one in four (24 percent) said that at-home tests or telehealth made it more convenient to get tested. In fact, 11 percent of respondents said they had taken an at-home STD test within the last three months - proving a need for more education on alternative methods of testing.
- Tuning in and getting tested: One in four reported getting tested more frequently in the last 24 months, and of those who reported increased testing behaviors, nearly half (47 percent) attributed it to being more proactive about paying attention to their bodies and their needs, in addition to being more concerned about STIs than usual (35 percent).
- More condoms, please: 35% reported being more likely to wear protection with a new partner than before the pandemic began.
- Reduce, Re-date, Recycle: 28% of respondents went back to a former fling or sexual partner to avoid the unnecessary risk of meeting new people.
- Well, that’s one way to do it…: 32% of respondents reported having sexual contact with their roommate during the pandemic, presumably to prevent exposure to COVID or out of quarantine-induced boredom.
“For far too long, there have been significant barriers in place for people to receive accessible and affordable sexual health support,” said Dr. Kristen Mark, PhD, MPH; Everlywell advisor and Professor at the University of Minnesota Medical School's Institute for Sexual and Gender Health. “As STIs continue to surge, it’s imperative that people take preventative measures to know their status. The good news is that there are now more options to get tested than ever before, whether through testing conducted at doctors’ offices and clinics or at-home STI tests which pair home collection with physician support and virtual diagnosis.”
As part of this report, Everlywell revealed that sales of their STD testing suite have increased 120% year over year during the first half of 2022 alone, showing that at-home STI testing is now part of the “new normal” for those seeking modern solutions for STI testing and virtual care.
Everlywell offers a full suite of diagnostic sexual health tests which pair at-home collection with certified laboratory processing. For STD Test customers whose results indicate infection, a telehealth consult from an independent physician who can prescribe treatment and inform the customer about next steps is included in the cost of each kit. Everlywell’s sexual health tests offer a convenient, discreet, transparently priced alternative to in-clinic visits and tests conducted in doctors’ offices. Tests are covered by most HSA/FSA accounts and are available online and at major retailers nationwide:
- Trichomoniasis Test $69
- Chlamydia & Gonorrhea Test - $69
- Hepatitis C Test - $69
- Syphilis Test - $69
- HIV Test - $69
- STD Test for Males and STD Test for Females (each tests for six common sexually transmitted infections) - $169
Everlywell is a diagnostics-driven healthcare company owned and operated by Everly Health. The brand was founded in 2015 when CEO and Founder Julia Cheek took inspiration from her own experience navigating the healthcare system to make lab testing affordable and convenient for all.
Today, Everlywell is a destination for products and digital tools that support health and wellness within the home, including telehealth, supplements, and insightful tests from certified labs. Since its launch, Everlywell and its team have amassed accolades including Fast Company's Most Innovative Companies, Forbes’ Best Startup Employers, Inc.'s Best-Led Companies, Fast Company’s World Changing Ideas, and more. For more information, please visit everlywell.com.
A representative sample of 1000 single U.S. adults ages 18-35 were surveyed to understand how sex, dating, testing, and prevention behaviors have shifted since March 2020. Those in relationships were screened out.
For full survey findings or specific insights from the Everlywell State of Sex (SOS) Survey, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org.