A New York company called Health Street is taking DNA paternity testing to the streets of NYC in a new mobile DNA testing clinic housed in a 28-foot RV and emblazoned with the provocative slogan, Who’s Your Daddy?
Is demand for DNA high enough to justify the costs of keeping a Winnebago on the road? There seems to be, considering that DNA testing is on the rise in the U.S., reaching nearly 500,000 samples tested each year. New Jersey has introduced an amendment to their Parentage Acts bill requiring mandatory paternity testing of all infants at birth. In child support cases, DNA test results are increasingly used as evidence whenever there is a question of paternity.
To get tested, passersby simply flag down the Winnebago. DNA samples are then taken by a technician, packaged and sent to a laboratory in Ohio; results are returned within a few business days. Customers must have a prescription from their physician to get tested, but this can be faxed or emailed to the RV. Health Street also offers a full plate of other genetic testing options.
Jared Rosenthal, founder of Health Street — and official driver of the RV — is proud to bring DNA testing to street level. Among the people affected by his service: Two women who learned they were half-sisters, and confirming a man’s suspicion that he might be the father of a friend’s daughter.
“DNA really gets at a person’s identity, it gets to the core of their identity, who your parents are, who your children are, how you define yourself ethnically and culturally,” Rosenthal tells ABC News. “The RV is a little more intimate than a clinic, clients tend to talk more they tell us things, we experience some of these life-changing moments with them.”
Just who’s getting tested? Health Street says typical customers include engaged men confirming the paternity of children from prior relationships, returning soldiers making sure newly-born children are theirs, and women inquiring about who fathered their child. All of these situations, besides carrying deep emotional consequences, could also lead to child support disputes depending on what DNA results show.
The reaction so far to DNA testing RV-style seems to be mixed. Some see quick and readily available testing is a boon, but many question whether people are psychologically prepared for their results — especially if the answer is not what they were hoping for.