With just a mobile app, men can now get tested in the privacy of home and be led to early treatment

The possibility of getting diagnosed with a sexually transmitted disease (STD) can be traumatizing and stigmatic. In fact, the embarrassment and anxiety associated with STD testing can actually deter people from seeking diagnosis and treatment promptly.

When it comes to managing all STDs early detection is key. Now, thanks to digital technology and innovation, this may soon be a thing of the past for men who suspect they may have caught a STD. A startup in Singapore has incorporate AI into a mobile app that can be used to analyze photographs of male genitalia for immediate diagnosis of any STD.

With just a few clicks on the app and through the power of a “customized convolutional neural network AI model”, users can know if they need further medical attention.

DIY STD detection with AI
Claimed to be the first of its kind, the image recognition technology can detect not only STDs but also certain rare penile conditions such as cancer of the male genitalia, with an accuracy rate that exceeded that of primary care physicians in some challenging disease cases during 18 months of live testing.

At the same time, the app prioritizes anonymity and does not collect any form of personal information. It even advises users to comply with multifactor authentication and privacy measures such as refraining from using real names or ‘main’ email addresses when registering on the platform.

According to Yudara Kularathne, co-founder and CEO, HeHealth, the developer of the app, the fear of undergoing STD testing tends to cause people to choose more discreet forms of triage as “crowd diagnosis”, which is not always accurate or reliable, and this can lead to sub-optimal care and health outcomes.

“To prevent this from happening, we hope to normalize STD screening among the community in Singapore. Focusing on penis-related STD is the first step that HeHealth is taking towards doing this. Further lowering the barrier to STD screening, HeHealth has made the service free of charge.”

The firm— part of the SMU BIG Incubator program—is working with the National University Singapore (NUS) research committee to improve the accuracy of the AI platform further. It is currently awaiting approvals from the country’s Health Sciences Authority and a research committee from the National University of Singapore to commence Stage 2 clinical trials to support the science behind its product.