MyLab: The At-Home STD Testing Kit Offering Hassle-free Results MyLab: The At-Home STD Testing Kit Offering Hassle-free Results Developed in 2013 by Lora Ivanova and Ursula Hessenflow, myLAB Box is the first-of-its kind service that delivers STD test right to the customer’s doorstep. Their kits utilize FDA-approved technology, and are validated by CLIA-certified lab affiliates, who all have decades of testing for infectious diseases. The panel includes 9 tests that directly identify pathogens through advanced DNA amplification technology, and four tests that measure antibodies. Each test can be completed in less than five minutes, sans the need to drive, schedule appointments, or wait in interminable lines at the doctor’s. MyLAB Box kits range from $79 for a single test, to $399 for a 10-panel screen, and boast the same diagnostic accuracy as testing in a laboratory or a doctor’s office would provide. By selling directly to the consumers, the process cuts out the middleman, thereby slicing the cost of conventional lab tests in half. The kit also offers complimentary physician consultations should the test results prove positive. MyLab Box The inspiration for the testing box came from a rather serendipitous happening – the two friends had gotten together for a drink, and were ranting about dismal dates when the topic of STD testing cropped up in the conversation. They began talking about how awkward it was to have sexual-health-related conversations with prospective partners, and both walked away from that discussion feeling like there must be a better way to talk about such pertinent manners in a less daunting manner. With that goal in mind, Ivanova and Hessenflow embarked on a quest for accessible, affordable, and reliable STD testing that could be easily purchased without a prescription. Neither had a solid background in healthcare; they both have backgrounds in public relations, while Ivanova described herself as “climbing the corporate ladder” in LA. However, despite their lack of previous experience in healthcare, the two have proved themselves successful in launching their product. Though the myLAB Box kit is targeted for couples to administer together, single people can use the box as well. “If you’re having sex, then myLAB Box is for you, regardless of whether you’re in a committed relationship or not,” Ivanova clearly states. “MyLAB Box test kits are designed to make it easier for anyone to have peace of mind about their sexual health and that of their partners.” Another major motivation behind the kits is their realization that with an increase in cuts to the healthcare system, consumer-driven health is only going to rise. “The timing is ripe for a model like myLAB Box, since consumers expect everything to be on-demand and at their fingertips,” details Hessenflow. “Our goal is to transform STD testing from something that has been traditionally taboo and inconvenient into basic, hassle-free hygeine – something taken on as easily as brushing your teeth.” STD testing and preventative measures are especially imperative in today’s times; the US, one of the most developed countries, is also suffering from STD infections at unprecedented rates. STIs current affect one in three Americans, with HPV affecting almost one in two Americans between ages 18 and 59. The permeation of hookup culture only compounds this issue, so it’s critical that testing methods evolve as quickly as our dating practices do. Another contributor to the growing STD epidemic is the fact that not nearly enough adults proactively test. Less than half of the adults aged 18 to 44 have ever been screened for any STIs other than HIV. And with as many as 80 percent of infections exhibiting little to no symptoms, it’s not surprising that many slip under the radar, especially is people only use the “visual inspection” method. “We are passionate about our health and the health of the people we care about, and have applied that passion to creating an alternative to in-lab testing,” says Hessenflow. “Empowering ourselves as individuals to take better care of our health is the future of healthcare.” Lora Ivanova and Ursula Hessenflow One major positive (no pun intended) of the myLAB Box kits is the convenience it offers. Ivanova touts, “Customers can test affordably and privately, on the go, anytime and anywhere. This means they can test as often as needed to maintain optimal health and peace of mind.” Though an annual visit to the OB/GYN is highly recommended, it is often not enough. For those who are sexually active, it is often necessary for more frequent screening, such as going every three to six months. This is often unrealistic, and too much of a hassle for today’s busy working adult. “The myLAB Box service offers unprecedented speed in processing of results,” promotes Hessenflow. Test results take as little as 24 hours to up to a week, depending on the customer’s location and the tests ordered. The results are delivered quickly and safely in a digital format, straight to the customer’s secure online account. “It really couldn’t be easier,” Hessenflow says. In launching the product line, the two entrepreneurs made a surprising discovery: their gender was actually an asset in the typically male-dominated businessworld. “We have found there is a lot of support for female entrepreneurs, in many ways because it is more uncommon, and it’s actually become an asset for us to leverage,” divulges Hessenflow. “That’s why we chose to become certified as a women-owned business. This has gotten us in the door of big retailers such as Walmart. In fact, over 20% of our initial investors were women!” On imparting wisdom into aspiring entrepreneurs, Ivanova has this to say: “Entrepreneurship is a marathon, not a sprint. Come up with a great idea is important, but that’s just a starting point. The real success comes when you find a way to develop that idea, implement it, fund it and nurture it over time as it grows.” Indeed, it seems like this method has been very fruitful, since the company is still successfully churning out its products, ensuring easily-accessible, accurate, at-home STD testing. Kate Chia Kate Chia is an NYU graduate with a degree in psychology and has a passion for all things writing-related. She has particular interest in writing about psychology, health, and creative nonfiction. Outside of work, she enjoys indie pop and folk music, scenic walks, and promoting gender equality.