Jessica Ching, 32
Co-founder of Eve Medical in Toronto
She designs services that let women self-screen for STIs.
By Megan Jones
While Jessica Ching was having coffee with friends in 2008, the subject of Pap tests came up. “Everyone’s face fell,” she says. She realized that many women she knew were avoiding the test, as well as screening for HPV – an infection that can lead to cervical cancer – and other sexually transmitted infections, because the process was uncomfortable.
At the time, Ching was studying industrial design at OCAD University in Toronto. For her thesis project, she developed a prototype for a hand-held screening device that would allow users to take samples themselves – a boon for the skittish, but also for patients in underserved communities.
A fully functional version, called HerSwab, was released in 2015. It’s part of a screening system called Eve Kit, which will be available shortly for $90. After collecting samples using HerSwab, users send the kit off to a lab and are able to check their results online within a week.
If the device helps even a few more women get screened, Ching will consider the initiative a success. “No one should be dying of cervical cancer,” she says. “It’s so preventable.”