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    STD self-test brought to Belgium by Brussels startup

    Abel.care works with a medical lab, without bringing in a general practitioner. Credit: Abel.care

    Brussels startup company abel.care have developed home tests for chlamydia and gonorrhoea to reach people who otherwise would not get tested.

    The company is developing self-tests for sexually transmitted diseases (STDs). In the Netherlands and the US, self-tests have already existed for some time, and in the UK, self-tests are even included in the National Health Service’s operations according to the startup.

    “Getting yourself tested at your general practitioner is pretty uncomfortable, time-consuming and not discrete,” said Ella Ameye, one of the founder members of the startup, in an interview with Bruzz.

    “You have to take time off at work, physically go to the doctor’s office and wait in the waiting room. You have to talk to the doctor about intimate subjects. Many people feel uncomfortable about the whole process. It is 2019, I think we can do better. We want to give people the opportunity to test themselves wherever and whenever they want,” Ameye said. “I remember that I was looking for something like this when I was a student,” she added.

    Together with Marie-Noel Achkar, a business expert, and Florencia Anzorena, who has a medical background, Ameye pitched the idea at KBC Start-it, an incubator for start-ups in Brussels. They have been working on it since April.

    Abel.care works with a medical lab, without bringing in a general practitioner. Starting from 13 November, a self-test for chlamydia and gonorrhoea, the two most common STDs, can be ordered online.

    Taking a urine sample or a vaginal swab can easily be done at home, with a kind of large cotton swab, based on a detailed step-by-step plan. The samples are then sent to the laboratory.

    The certified laboratory then examines the sample and abel.care will make the results available in a personal account on the website www.abel.care. The results are as reliable as the ones going through the general practitioner.

    “The self-tests have to comply with all sorts of guidelines. It has to be foolproof: everyone should be able to use it without problems. We work together with pharmaceutical companies for certified test kits,” Ameye added.

    The goal is not to sideline doctors or general practitioners, but to reach people who will not go to their doctor to get tested, for whatever reason, according to them.

    “If the result of the test comes back positive, you have to go to the doctor after all. The doctor can then tell you whether it is chlamydia or gonorrhoea, and start a treatment,” said Achkar to Bruzz.

    A self-test kit will cost €49.

    Maïthé Chini
    The Brussels Times