Sexually transmitted diseases are on the rise in Nevada, and one local health care provider sees a simple solution to curbing the problem.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Nevada ranked first in the nation in 2018 for reported cases and rates of primary and secondary syphilis. With 682 cases, that was a rate of 22.7 per 100,000 people, up from 11.8 per 100,000 people three years prior. And according to the Southern Nevada Health District, there are already 10 more cases year-to-date in 2019 than 2018. The state’s ranking for instances of gonorrhea and chlamydia also worsened from 2015 to 2018, although the SNHD showed the year-to-date number of chlamydia cases decreased this year.
Jonathan Baktari, M.D., the CEO and founder of e7 Health, said the key to addressing the issue is ensuring there is a multi-pronged approach to decreasing the number of barriers people face when seeking testing and prevention options. The public health system has limited resources and a lot of areas to focus on, and dealing with networks can be daunting, so other options are necessary, he said.
“It’s becoming more difficult with our health care system to even see a primary care doctor. There’s often a three- to four-week wait, all the bureaucracy and hoops to jump through, finding who is in your network. With all of that, it just puts in more barriers for people who might potentially seek out resources,” Baktari said. “We need an approach that combines the private, public and in-between (institutions that are a little private and little bit public) to address this kind of crisis.”
Baktari said money isn’t generally the biggest barrier to getting tested since there are many free clinics available. But a big factor is discomfort: people may not want to talk to a longtime/family primary care physician about this personal issue, and they may feel judged sitting in a big, open room at a county-run free health clinic, where everyone knows the purpose of the visit. Additionally, STDs may not be something with which a primary care physician is as familiar because it is often not a big part of their practice.
Baktari said clinics like e7 Health help address some of those issues. e7 Health only focuses on seven areas of practice, two of them being STD testing and vaccines, so testing is in his staff’s wheelhouse. Because e7 Health puts a large emphasis on technology, it also adds to the discreetness of the process. Appointments are scheduled online; reminders are sent by text or email; tests are administered where other health services are available, so it’s not obvious what the visit is for; a lot of general STD information is available on their website; and results are sent to a patient portal only the patient can access or are given via a phone call.
Unlike other clinics, e7 Health also gives patients access to a clinician if they want a consultation. Appointments are often available the same day, and since the clinic doesn’t provide primary care or urgent care, insurance is not accepted, so that eliminates some hardships that come with seeing primary care doctors (although e7 Health provides patients with the paperwork necessary to submit to insurance companies for possible reimbursement).
Baktari said e7 Health has seen an uptick in STD tests, which he believes is happening because more people are becoming aware of the company’s existence. But to continue fulfilling their mission of prevention, he said it’s imperative to spread the word about the private option.
“When people find us, they almost can’t believe we exist,” he said. “As far as I know, there’s no other private, freestanding brick-and-mortar STD clinic, just the government-run clinics and private places that receive public funding like Planned Parenthood. … The average person does not know that there is a discreet, private option at a brick-and-mortar facility that essentially specializes in this.”
For more information about STD testing at e7 Health, visit https://www.e7health.com/std-
e7 Health (previously The Vaccine Center) is a preventative health and wellness company supervised by board-certified doctors. The company specializes in seven areas of health care: travel medicine, student health, employee health, drug testing, STD testing, physical exams, immigration exams and laboratory services.
Since opening in 2009, e7 Health has grown its business by more than 40 percent and is the largest private travel medicine clinic in Southern Nevada, offering every vaccine commercially available in the United States. It currently has two locations in Las Vegas and one in Chicago and has plans to open additional clinics nationwide.