The Singapore Ministry of Health announced on 1 Jul that HIV self-testing will be introduced under the National HIV Programme. This complements testing services available at polyclinics, hospitals and anonymous HIV test sites. Self-test kits will be available from August at the Department of Sexually Transmitted Infections Control clinic and the Action for AIDS (AfA) Anonymous Test Site. This will be a welcome development for people seeking home testing for HIV. But how about those looking for other discreet STD tests in Singapore? What are the options available if you are looking to test for conditions such as Chlamydia and Gonorrhea?
Discreet STD Tests in Singapore – Doctor Clinics
You can generally be assured that STD testing at GP or men’s / women’s health clinics in Singapore are private and confidential. Some clinics like Tanjong Pagar Clinic, Dr Ben Medical, and DTAP Express offer STD self-testing where no doctor consultation is needed. This caters for those who are not comfortable talking to a doctor. Typically, all you have to do is visit the clinic anytime during operating hours and register for self-testing. You then take the required urine or swab samples yourself. If there is a need for a blood sample, a phlebotomist will help to draw the blood. The samples are given to the clinic for analysis. The test result will be sent to you via Whatsapp or email once ready in 5-7 working days. The process may vary a little depending on the clinic.
Full screenings for multiple STDs or STIs may cost around $300-$500, depending on the package and the clinic.
What happens then even these options are not sufficiently discreet for people who may wish to avoid visiting a clinic altogether? This is where home test kits come into the picture.
Discreet STD Tests in Singapore – Lab-Based Home Testing
A simple online search yields a number of STD home tests options available in Singapore. For those who feel uncomfortable going to a clinic to get tested, you can order a home test for the STD(s) you need to be tested for, but still get the assurance of lab-analysed results. What are some of these options and how much do they cost?
This is a home testing service by DTAP clinic. To make use of the service, you contact the clinic for a teleconsult, confirm with the doctor the tests needed, and a kit will be sent to you. Collect the required samples as per the included instructions and send the sample to the clinic for analysis. Depending on the test, the results will be available after 72 hours, or 5-7 working days (for full vagina swab or full urine STD tests).
Charges include consultation ranging from around $40 – $130. The cost of the kit is $33 (inclusive of delivery / pickup costs). Laboratory investigation fees may be up to around $500, depending on the number and types of tests needed. Lab fees are the same as charged in-clinic testing.
Ease describes themselves as a “digital health platform that improves access to sexual and reproductive health services”. They “work closely with licensed doctors, retail pharmacies and testing labs to ensure that the process of attending consultations, obtaining medication, and getting tested is as streamlined and convenient as possible.” Their doctors are said to be “Singapore Medical Council registered medical practitioners” and “have completed the Singapore Ministry of Health’s telemedicine e-learning course”.
So how does this work? Ease explains on their website that you will fill in a health questionnaire, which will be reviewed by their doctors. A licensed phlebotomist will visit to take your blood sample and also provide tools for self-collection oof samples if necessary. Samples are lab analysed and results will be available in 7 days. Tests cost from $49 (HIV only) up to $359 (full suite comprising HIV, Syphilis, Herpes II, Hepatitis B, Chlamydia and Gonorrhea.)
Ferne Health, started in Jan 2020, describes themselves as a “Singapore based company that delivers at-home consulting and screening services for sexual health”. They partner with local clinics who review samples and screening results under clinically approved protocols.
Their process for home testing includes first consulting with one of their doctors. If the assessment is that the service is right for you, a phlebotomist will meet you at your address to carry out blood sample collection. You will receive your lab-analysed results in a few days. Costs range from $46 (HIV-only test) to $290 (HIV, Syphilis, Herpes (HSV-1 & HSV-2), Hepatitis B, Gonorrhea and Chlamydia).
How About Non-Laboratory-Based Home Testing Kits? Caveat Emptor for Now.
For the ultimate in privacy and discreet STD testing in Singapore, there is the option of purchasing home testing kits. These kits claim to show results in minutes without need to send samples back to a lab for analysis. In our online research, we found several sites that sell test kits of various brands for testing of individual STDs (such as HIV, syphilis, chlamydia, gonorrhea, and hepatitis B) at under $30 each. However, they do not make it clear if such kits are approved by the Health Sciences Authority as per local regulatory requirements.
We have also found test kits sold by individuals on a popular local e-comm website. The quality of these kits are unknown and they appear unlikely to be approved for local use. The risks of using non-approved, poorly functioning test kits include the possibility of:
- False positives (telling you that you are infected when you are not);
- False negatives (failing to detect infections); and
- Health risks from usage of potentially non-sanitary devices to draw samples.
For these options, you really do buy and use at your own risk. Caveat emptor.
|Update: We had reached out to the Health Sciences Authority to enquire on the licensing requirements for STD home test kits in Singapore. They inform that “currently only HIV self-test kits are being introduced by the National HIV Programme starting from 1 Aug 2022 and this is under the Ministry of Health (MOH). “|
Consult a Doctor If You Experience Symptoms Regardless of Test Results
Regardless of test results, you should consult a doctor if you experience any possible symptoms of STDs to seek advice and timely treatment.
This article is informative only and is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment, and should never be relied upon for specific medical advice.