Written by: Stephen Cavallaro & Hillary Straba
Social media has been an ever-increasing tool for the exchange of information.
In the last decade, internet goers have misused social media, exploiting it by turning popular sites such as Twitter and Facebook into blasé showcases, displaying their deplorable lives and desperate need for affirmation.
Early this year, Ramin Bastani released Hula, an app that not only allows people to productively channel their lack of self-respect but also can assist in saving lives.
Hula allows people to submit their STD test results that will then be viewable to others, a means that will entice people to practice both good communication and safer sex.
While the transmission of STDs in the nation continues on a rampage, social media users should be embracing Hula and thanking Bastani, who says he wants “to bring transparency to the STD testing world.”
In 2012, the CDC reported that 34 percent of the 334,826 reported gonorrhea cases were among 20-24 year olds, and of the 1,422,976 reported chlamydia cases, 39 percent were among the same age group.
In 2011, the CDC ranked Georgia fourth in the nation for syphilis, seventh for gonorrhea and eighth for chlamydia.
In addition, this free app could save the consumer hundreds of dollars by eliminating the need to have an irritating, often painful STD test conducted, in addition to eliminating the emotional distress of being concerned for one’s health.
While some feel this app is breaching the line between socially decent and deviant, we cannot continue to sugarcoat a world that condones premarital and polyamorous sexual lifestyles.
Statistics show that STDs are prevalent in our society, and people have a right to know what they are getting themselves into before potentially condemning themselves to disease. Hula creates a healthy environment to do just this, not an arena to ridicule and debase others.
Apparently you can download stupidity from the app store.
Hula, formerly known as Qpid.me, is a free iPhone app that allows its users to have easy access to their personal health records−specifically, their STD testing results.
The experience of this app is much less clinical than one would expect; Hula has adopted a social media platform and applied it to healthcare.
Users “unzip” the app to reveal their profile containing their most current testing information; this includes an itemized list of every STD they have been tested for, when they were last tested and what the results were.
If we have learned one thing from social media, it’s that people do not always represent themselves truthfully in their online profiles. The use of a social media platform to communicate important information like a person’s STD status calls into question the validity of the information presented.
According to the Hula website, “the Personal Information data we collect is based solely on information provided by our users or their health care providers. We cannot guarantee the authenticity of any data that users may provide about themselves.”
If Hula recognizes the possibility of someone falsifying his or her information, how can users fully trust the information they are given through the app? Furthermore, how can the app stop a person from stealing someone else’s login information and presenting it to others as his or her own?
In addition to false representation, privacy and security are other major concerns.
According to Raman Bastani, CEO of Hula, Hula meets or exceeds the security standards, privacy practices and access-control standards proscribed by the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act. This includes encrypting all information both in motion and at rest.
Hula, however, does not guarantee that all transmissions are completely secure.
Hackers are growing more sophisticated as encryption techniques improve. Our digital information is never completely secure and identity theft is a reality.
Currently, the consequences of identity theft are primarily monetary in nature. However, with personal health information being transmitted through apps like Hula, users are inviting the possibility of a different kind of identity theft.
Bastani’s intention for Hula is to make records more accessible to patients and also to help people make more responsible decisions about their health.
While no one can deny his intentions are good, the responsibility ultimately lies in the hands of the user. The app does nothing to safeguard an individual against having sex with an infected partner unless one or both partners care enough to share his or her status.
And let’s be honest, in the heat of the moment, “unzipping” anything other than pants is highly unlikely.