Many people refuse to go to the doctor, especially when it comes to sexually transmitted infections (STI). The fact that few young people are willing to visit an STI clinic is one of the reasons for the rise in the diseases, especially among men. It would appear that embarrassment (and maybe just lack of time) is a large part of the problem. People certainly are interested in getting medical advice. When the TV programme Embarassing Bodies, added an STI checker to their website, nearly 1/2 million people used it. It was so successful that the NHS funded the site as it was helping them to get in touch with some hard to reach patients.
It looks like the solution to STI diagnosis could come from the mobile phone. Going one step beyond just a symptom checker, researchers are developing a small device that attaches to a phone or PC. It can analyse saliva and tell you if you have an STI and if so, which one. The idea is to sell the devices for less than £1 from vending machines in places like night club toilets. This is just one of many initiatives to make your phone into your personal doctor – in the future our mobiles will be an essential part of our medical programme.