Happy Birthday to us - an eventful year

 Condoms, contraception and cupcakes

Condoms, contraception and cupcakes

This week we acknowledged a milestone at SH:24, the first birthday of our STI test service being online and serving the people of Lambeth and Southwark.

So we celebrated with a huge SH:24 cake and cupcakes iced with condoms, IUDs and contraceptive pills (shout out to Crumbs and Doillies for that magic!). As you do.

 Our logo never looked so tasty

Our logo never looked so tasty

There’s lots to celebrate in terms of the future of SH:24 - in four new UK regions people will be able to order a test from April, chlamydia treatment by post will be available by Spring and we will make oral contraception available online later in the Summer. Exciting times indeed.

With that in mind, we thought we’d look back on some of the factors that have influenced how and when people have used the service during our first year.

Press ain’t dead

You often hear these days that press is dead and while the printed page has likely had its day, there’s still lots to be said for being featured in news media. We appeared in the Mail on Sunday and the following day, Metro UK, Mirror, Huffpost Lifestyle and Hexjam all picked us up too. We had heaps more people try to use the service but our Southwark/Lambeth restriction meant we couldn’t support them at that time.

Dr Google will see us now

Around 40% of people use Google to find information about health symptoms and everyone with a mobile phone, tablet or laptop uses it to find services and produces they need. Being on the first page when people search for things like ‘STI test’ in Lambeth and Southwark has been key to helping people find us. We have a 10% diagnostic rate for people who use the service, chlamydia being the most commonly diagnosed STI of everything we test for.

The Charlie Sheen effect and public awareness campaigns

 That big red spike is when Charlie Sheen announced he is HIV positive

That big red spike is when Charlie Sheen announced he is HIV positive

On Tuesday 17 November 2015, Charlie Sheen announced that he is HIV positive. Google Trends shows a massive spike in searches related to HIV on that day. We had a small spike in traffic that day and orders and visits stayed high the rest of the week. The following week was HIV Awareness week and we had more visits and orders than the previous week. World Aids Day on 1 December saw another little spike in activity. Awareness days sometimes get stick for being ineffective, but if they’re well supported, they can help provoke action.

New year, new to-do list

 SH:24 team have some well deserved cake

SH:24 team have some well deserved cake

During the first working week of 2016 we hit our record number of orders in a week - 310. Orders virtually flatlined on Christmas day so it seems STI testing is definitely more of a weekly to-do list item than something to do in your holiday downtime. On our own to-do list was launching our webchat function. We knew this could be a good support method for users from our work with SMS text messages. We’ve had 3,000 text message conversations linked to orders - users have loved being able to communicate with us this way.

5 star reviews

There’s a lot to be said for the social proof and word of mouth that’s accumulated for the service over time. We get unsolicited, excellent feedback regularly via Twitter, text and email and people also tell us they heard about the service from their friends. It takes on average under 4 minutes for people to order a test from our site and the return rate recently hit 75%, further underscoring just how easy SH:24 is to use.


We can’t wait to see what happens in the next year when we launch in Essex, Telford and Wrekin, Shropshire and Herefordshire - we’ll keep you posted, or you can follow us on Twitter, Facebook or Instagram or sign up to our newsletter below