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Finally, a Good Reason to Send Somebody a Photo of Your Genitals

The  "STD Triage" app lets you email pictures of your "intimate problem" to a panel of dermatologists.

Rommel Canlas/Shutterstock

Something nasty is happening under the sheets in San Francisco. While HIV rates are on the wane, instances of STDs like gonorrhea, syphilis and chlamydia are rising and rising, with their rates hitting a five-year high at the end of 2012. Epidemiologists are still struggling to figure out why this is happening in the city – and indeed, across the United States – but if a casual encounter has left you burning, it's a great time to ask a doctor that delightful question: Does this look infected to you?

And now it's easier than ever to get your troubled gonads the professional help they need, thanks to a Swedish company called iDoc24. This outfit runs a "tele-dermatology" service that allows people to use their smartphones to take pictures of worrisome rashes and have them examined by remotely stationed medical workers. After receiving hundreds of images of skin conditions over the years, the company noticed a trend. About 30 percent of them were "of the genital area," according to Alexander Börve, the founder of iDoc24 and a Ph.D. candidate at U.C. Berkeley.

Thus the birth of STD Triage, an app devoted solely to infections of the privates. Users who want to know what's up downtown obtain the free app and snap two pictures, one of the general area and another real close-up shot showing all the gruesome details. These they send to STD Triage's central processing, along with answers to a few diagnostic questions, such as "Where on your body is your lesion?" and "Do you have a fever?" A dermatologist working for iDoc24 soon enough formulates an opinion and – after paying $9.99 – the potentially diseased can read it and determine if they need to head to a clinic.

Börve told the HuffPo that about "70 percent of the cases submitted to iDoc24 result in a recommendation for an over-the-counter treatment," and that he hopes the other 30 percent "takes steps to get to a doctor right away." Just who are these dermatologists giving their valuable time to scrutinize Internet strangers' junk? The company assures they are "licensed," "insured" and in some cases, "[w]orld renowned," opening up the thrilling possibility that New York's Jonathan Zizmor is personally gazing at your wart.

Here's Börve explaining a bit more about how the app works last week at the tech start-up Launch Festival in San Francisco:

Top photo courtesy of Rommel Canlas on Shutterstock.

About the Author

  • John Metcalfe
    John Metcalfe is CityLab’s Bay Area bureau chief, based in Oakland. His coverage focuses on climate change and the science of cities.