A New York businessman is offering a mobile blood and tissue collection service for paternity testing.
The company, called Health Street, was started by Jared Rosenthal, who originally offered the service from his truck because he couldn't afford to lease office space. With an eye-catching slogan on the van that reads 'Who's your daddy?', Rosenthal offers paternity testing for between $299 and $575. The 'curious truck' helps bring in people to get ‘tested on a whim', explained Rosenthal.
The DNA samples are taken and packaged at the van, before being transported to a clinic in Ohio for processing. Results are delivered to customers either in person or by mail.
Health Street offers a variety of other services including drug tests, background checks, alcohol tests and drug screening with urine or hair tests. Its website provides pricing information with 'packages' and upgrades depending on the service required.
Rosenthal does not think there is a stigma over paternity testing and says the process is relatively simple, saying the work is 'mostly administrative'. Customers must have a prescription from a doctor requesting the test.
The majority of paternity testing in the USA takes place in state child-support agencies, but Rosenthal believes he's making a valuable contribution for those 'simply seeking answers'.
Michael Baird, director of DNA testing laboratory DNA Diagnostics, says that the demand for paternity testing is increasing in the USA, partly because of the number of unmarried women with children.
But there have been concerns expressed over the authenticity and accuracy of the results. Susan Crocklin, a lawyer at Georgetown Law Center, said 'the underlying issues are obviously the quality of testing'.
All testing for Health Street is certified by the AABB, formerly the American Association of Blood Banks, which accredits relationship testing facilities in the USA, as well as the New York state Department of Health.
Crocklin adds: 'The bigger question is what do we do with this information. Why are we looking for it and what do we think it means?'
Rosenthal says he offers answers to the 'fundamental questions' concerning paternity and says his work is often 'heart-breaking'. The accessibility of the service raises concerns over the psychological impact of DNA testing.
Professor David Bishai at John Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, said: 'If you're really happy with the children in your life, don't go near these things'.