STD Testing

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We always talk about how it’s important to get tested for Sexually Transmitted Diseases (STDs) as an important way to own your sexual health! What does “getting tested” really mean?

How do I get tested?

Getting tested for STDs is easy! Find a clinic near you to make an appointment or get screened via telehealth! You can also get tested with your regular doctor during an annual exam or physical!

I got tested, so I’m all good, right?

Nope. Many people don’t realize that there isn’t just one test for every kind of STD. Actually, there aren’t even tests for some STDs. That’s why it’s important to know what you are actually getting tested for.

Most clinics you go to will test for chlamydia and gonorrhea and possibly HIV. They will test for chlamydia and gonorrhea through a urine test or swab test and for HIV through a finger prick or cheek swab. They may also test for syphilis with a blood test, though this can be less common. However, there are other STDs that wouldn’t be found with these specific tests.

So how do I know which kind of test I should get?

During your visit you will get an STD screening to figure out what to test for. “Screening” means they will ask you questions about your lifestyle, your sexual history, and your symptoms. Based on this information they figure out what tests are best for you. (Remember: Some STDs don’t have symptoms.) It is important to be honest with your provider so they can test you for the right things. Remember, they have heard it all before!

Make sure you know which tests are being run so you can understand what the results mean. You get to ask questions about anything that is unclear at any time. Don’t be afraid to speak up. That’s part of taking charge of your health.

You have the right to advocate for your health concerns. If there is an STD test that the medical provider doesn’t recommend, but you think is important, you can ask for it specifically! A good provider will discuss your concerns and make a plan that works for you.

Do I need permission from my parents?

It is always great to talk to a parent or other trusted adult about your sexual health but it is not required and you do not need permission to get tested. If you are interested in getting tested for STDs, you can visit the doctor or a clinic near you by yourself. If you are visiting the doctor with a parent or guardian, your doctor should have a few minutes where they ask your parents to leave the room. This is your opportunity to bring up anything that you might only want to discuss directly with your provider. If your parent or guardian is not asked to leave for a few minutes, you can ask for that time yourself. You can consider telling your parent you want to practice visiting the doctor alone. Also, if this private time never happens, you can return on your own to talk about STD testing. This time alone with the doctor and any STD tests you might get either at your regular doctor or a clinic are considered confidential, or private.

Why can’t I just get tested for every STD?

For some STDs, like HPV, there isn’t a good test for all bodies. People with vaginas usually get tested during a PAP smear or annual exam, but there isn’t a good HPV test for people with a penis. For other STDs, like herpes, it is not recommended for everyone to get tested, but you can always ask your doctor if you are interested in a herpes test. The bottom line is that just because someone got an STD test, it doesn’t mean that they’ve been tested for ALL STDs.

How do I found out my results?

The clinic may tell you “no news is good news” meaning that if you do not hear from them in two weeks, your results came back negative. They may also call and follow up after your results come back. Either way, it usually takes some time and it is important they have your correct contact information so they can get in touch with you. If you don’t hear from them and are curious, give them a call. If the results come back positive, meaning you have an STD, they will talk to you about how to get treatment. Many STDs can be cured and all can be treated!

How much does it cost?

STD testing is FREE! It is covered by insurance and if you do not have insurance or do not want to use your insurance because you are worried about your parents finding out, there are programs like FamilyPACT that can help you.

Remember: prevention is key! If you plan to have sex, always use barrier methods, like internal or external condoms, to prevent STDs! You can find free condoms here!