Tracey Powell, STD Test Expert
Tracey Powell is the founder and CEO of DTC MD, and has held the same position with his company Home Access Health Corporation (HAHC). After graduating from Western Illinois University with a degree in marketing, Mr. Powell went on to found Home Access Health Corporation in 1993, which offers the only FDA-approved at-home tests for HIV and Hepatitis C testing. In 2008, he founded DTC MD, named for Direct-to-Consumer Medical Diagnostics, and the parent company of his latest venture, getSTDtested.com which he founded in May of 2009. According to Mr. Powell, getSTDtested.com is America’s leading online STD testing clinic that sets the Gold Standard for STD awareness and testing. GetSTDtested.com is committed to de-stigmatizing STDs and providing people peace of mind by helping them gauge their sexual health and get real help from in-house medical doctors and certified STD counselors that are offered through our partnership with the American Social Health Association (ASHA).
While there are no specific certifications in the field of STD testing, Mr. Powell has been recognized as a thought leader on sexual health diagnostics and infection prevention through his ongoing commitment to bringing technology and innovation to the field of STD testing and advocating for tester anonymity. After founding Home Access Health Corporation, the company released the first and only FDA-approved at-home tests for HIV and Hepatitis C. The HAHC lab operated under FDA and Clinical Laboratory Improvements Amendments (CLIA) regulations, and was certified by the College of American Pathologists (CAP).
In 2007, Mr. Powell was asked to testify in front of the National Committee on Vital and Health Statistics (NCVHS) as an advocate for customer confidentiality when testing for STDs. This testimony was part of the government’s dialogue on creating a national health information network. With HAHC and now with getSTDtested.com, Mr. Powell has consistently employed certified and licensed professionals for critical roles such as STD pre-test and post-test counseling and medical review functions.
How did you get started in the field of STD testing?
More recently, I realized that while people were overwhelmingly moving to the Internet for their health information and services, online STD testing represented a miniscule fraction of the diagnostic testing market. Importantly, people often need a range of STD tests, as some people need options that include local STD testing facilities or even at-home testing. I also saw the need to bring a significant level of trust to an online STD clinic while also bringing in the 21st century convenience and privacy to the STD testing experience. With getSTDtested.com I was able to do this, building on my STD testing experience to create a trusted online experience for those who need to get STD tested, and market that capability in creative ways to connect with our customers.
Why is STD testing important?
Many people feel that, since they are not experiencing any symptoms of an STD, they are not at risk – this is a common misconception. Some may not experience symptoms of certain STDs, but can still be infected. By getting STD tested, you can know your sexual health and, in the case of a positive result, get treatment to avoid potentially long-term and serious complications. For instance, many people infected with chlamydia never experience any symptoms and, if left untreated, it can inflict serious reproductive and other health problems. And just as important, it is commonly those that have been recently infected with an STD (and don’t know it) that cause the most spread of that STD through continued unprotected sexual contact.
When should a person be tested for an STD?
For men having sex with men, the CDC recommends also adding an annual test for syphilis and hepatitis B. Those who have been vaccinated for hepatits B do not need to test for this infection. Hepatitis C testing is recommended for intravenous drug users and those who received transfusions prior to 1992.
Another important point regarding when to test is related to what is termed the “window period.” STDs may have a differing period of time after exposure (between days and months) when they will be accurately reflected in an STD test, so one cannot “immediately” get an STD test after a potential exposure. And it is recommended that some who actually test negative (i.e., indication of no STD infection) conduct re-testing to assure that the window period issue was covered.
If a person finds out that he/she has contracted a sexually transmitted disease, how often should he/she be retested following treatment?
Keep in mind that for some of these infections, notably HIV, herpes 1, herpes 2, syphilis and hepatitis C, once someone has tested positive the first time, there is no need to test again as the tests will always confirm positive status even as the person undergoes treatment for any one of these STDs. Any ongoing testing will relate to treatment and management, in close review with a medical professional.
Are there any preparatory steps one should take prior to having an STD test conducted?
Approximately how long does it take for a person to receive results from an STD test?
What is the most significant piece of advice you can offer to people who wish to get tested for an STD?
Do you have any additional advice or suggestions to offer regarding STD testing?