For World Sexual Health Day, GetCheckedOnline

September 3, 2021   |   News, Blog

In an era of instant and constant connectivity, digital technologies can be used to promote sexual health and sexual rights online. But they can also be a conduit for bullying, shaming and misinformation. That’s why the theme for World Sexual Health Day (WSHD) this year is Turn it On, a message intended to spark awareness of the need for better access to sexual health and stronger protection of sexual rights in the digital sphere.

Observed annually on September 4, WSHD is organized by the World Association for Sexual Health and aims to promote sexual health, well-being and rights for all. The Centre for Gender and Sexual Health Equity (CGSHE) is the official Canadian host for WSHD Canada 2021.  According to the World Association for Sexual Health, “information and communication technologies provide the ideal tool for health promotion to ensure that communication on social networks promotes involvement in health self-care, especially in groups that are not reached with traditional methods such as young people.” [source]

GetCheckedOnline is an innovative digital sexual health tool, working to erode social, structural and geographic barriers to sexual health resources and education by helping people get tested for sexually transmitted infections (STIs) without visiting a health care provider. ​​It was launched in 2014 by Dr. Mark Gilbert, Centre for Gender & Sexual Health Equity Faculty and Medical Director at BC Centre for Disease Control, and offers free and confidential testing, available to anyone who can visit a participating lab in select communities in British Columbia. The tool allows users to create a lab form from its online assessment, which they can then bring to a participating lab with samples for testing, receiving results online or by phone.

“GetCheckedOnline helps people take control of their sexual health,” said Dr. Gilbert, Associate Professor with the School of Population and Public Health at UBC, who received implementation science funding from CIHR to scale-up and evaluate the implementation of the digital sexual health tool. “There are a number of reasons why people don’t test – it could be clinic hours or wait times, stigma, or embarrassment talking about sex with their doctor. GetCheckedOnline helps break down those barriers and makes it easier for people to test.” [source]

The World Association for Sexual Health concedes that although digital technologies can offer easier access to information, “there is not a broad panorama of tools that address the promotion of healthy sexual practices both among young people and people of any age group.” [source] That makes GetCheckedOnline an even more critical resource for building sexual health equity for British Columbians. A recent survey as part of the CIHR project conducted by Dr. Gilbert’s team showed that users of GetCheckedOnline “were less likely to report unmet sexual health needs during the pandemic, suggesting that internet-based testing services and other virtual health care services play an important role in mitigating service access issues,” Dr. Gilbert said. [source]

World Sexual Health Day’s 2021 theme, Turn it On, is a call for action to meet the challenges the digital world brings to sexual health and sexual rights. GetCheckedOnline rises to the challenge by destigmatizing STIs and promoting digital sexual health through its free, confidential, accessible service. For more information on WSHD and a calendar of WSHD events, visit World Sexual Health Day Canada.