Calmara suggests it can detect STIs with photos of genitals

Key Points:

  • You should not use an AI tool to determine whether or not to have sex based on a photo of someone’s genitals.
  • Actual STI tests use blood and urine samples to detect infections, as visual exams may be inaccurate.
  • Other startups are offering more responsible and accurate approaches to accessible STI testing.


Calmara, a controversial company in the sexual health tech space, offers an AI tool that claims to determine a person’s STI status by analyzing photos of their genitals. However, experts warn against using such a method due to the unreliability of visual exams and the potential for false results, especially since most STIs are asymptomatic.


In contrast, other startups like TBD Health are taking a more responsible approach to accessible STI testing by emphasizing the importance of validated diagnostic tests that use blood and urine samples. These tests provide clearer results and are crucial for accurate STI detection.


Calmara’s marketing messages, initially promoting itself as a tool for “unprotected sex,” have raised ethical concerns about the company’s intentions and approach to sexual health. While Calmara’s CEO insists it is a lifestyle product rather than a medical tool, critics argue that the company’s AI tool may mislead users and create a false sense of security.


Furthermore, data privacy issues are a significant point of contention with Calmara and its parent company HeHealth. Questions about how user data, including intimate photos, is handled and shared raise concerns about confidentiality and security. While Calmara claims compliance with HIPAA regulations and offers an anonymous mode, there are still uncertainties about the storage, access, and potential misuse of sensitive information.


The potential risks associated with inaccurate STI assessments, privacy breaches, and ethical dilemmas, such as minors accessing the platform, highlight the shortcomings of Calmara’s technology. Experts caution against the premature introduction of such technologies in the sexual health industry, emphasizing the importance of thorough validation and transparency in providing reliable services to consumers.



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