Testing for Sexually Transmitted Infections (or “STI’s”)
Who should be tested?
Generally, anyone who has had sexual contact with another person, regardless of the partner’s gender. Sexual contact includes genital skin to skin contact, intimate body fluid contact, and/or vaginal, anal, or oral contact. Testing will be tapered to the individual’s probable risk. If you are unsure of your risk, schedule an information session with a “Peer Sexual Health Educator” at the Self Care Center (650-3400). Many STIs cause no symptoms, so feeling fine does not mean you are free from STIs. Consistent condom use can decrease the chance of acquiring an STI, but cannot protect completely against all STIs.
How would I know if my partner has an STI?
You may not know, as many infections cause no symptoms (your partner(s) may not know that they have an infection either). If symptoms are present, they could include (but are not limited to): pain with urination or frequent urination, pain in the genital area or lower abdomen, unusual vaginal, urethral or anal discharge, new sores or bumps, bleeding or pain with intercourse.
What kinds of tests are available?
Chlamydia, Gonorrhea, Herpes, Syphilis, HIV, Trichomonas, and Hepatitis A, B, and C.
Other less common tests can also sometimes be arranged.
How long will it take to get the test results?
Some STIs are diagnosed through tests that are sent to a separate lab, and those results may not be available for up 14 (working) days. A few STIs can be diagnosed on the day that you have an exam.
Test results are sent to you by password secured electronic messaging.
What will it cost?
Your visit to the Self Care Center for information or counseling is free.
Your visit and exam at the Student Health Center is also free, but charges may be added if a lab test or medication is ordered. For a list of current charges for STI testing, see our STI Checklist.
Is there a way to be tested for all STIs?
The answer to that is complicated. The short answer is “no”, usually not at one visit. STIs reveal themselves in different ways, at different times. Some are diagnosed visually, and may not appear for many months, others may take up to 4 months to show up in blood tests, and others may reveal themselves in tests only a week or two after infection. The most reliable STI testing will be possible when a person is educated about STIs, acknowledges their own risks, and has ongoing good communication with their health care provider.
Which STIs are curable?
STIs that are caused by bacteria, such as Chlamydia and Gonorrhea, are most easily curable. Other STIs are caused by viruses. These are not usually curable, but are treatable. Your immune system can also sometimes eliminate some viruses, such as HPV and molluscum.
What should I expect at an appointment to be tested?
1: You will be asked personal questions about your medical and sexual history to help determine your STI risks and concerns.
STI testing should be individualized. Your answers to these questions will be kept confidential. This information is also important because tests are often time sensitive, and are most accurate when done after or within certain time intervals. You can view our STI checklist here.
(Please note: Individuals manifest certain STIs differently. Because of this we may refer to the terms "male" or "female" occasionally, meaning your birth gender. If we use these terms, it is only to be sure that we look at your health comprehensively. We understand that your gender identity may differ from your birth gender.)
2: With your consent, a physical exam can also be done: for females this will involve a pelvic exam, and for males, most often a brief exam of the genitals.
Let your examiner know if you have symptoms or issues that concern you before they do the exam. The physical exam helps diagnose STIs that do not show up on other tests. For females, although a pelvic exam is done, a pap smear is not done at an appointment to check for STIs. A female may, however, opt to have some STI testing done at the time of a scheduled pap smear.
3: You may be asked to leave a urine sample, and/or a culture may be done with a swab, and/or you may also wish to have bloodwork done.
If you have any concerns about a test, let us know!
4: There may be brief discussion about how to reduce your risks for STIs
5: There may be some charges made to your student account for labs or medicines. If it has not been discussed already, be sure to ask about those charges.
How do I arrange an appointment?
For an information (only) session about STI testing, call 650-3400, select option 1 and ask for an appointment with a Health Educator.
For STI testing, call 650-3400, select option 1 and ask to make an appointment for STI testing.
If you are interested in CT/GC testing, please look at our Express STI Testing guidelines and see if you qualify for express testing.
For more information about STIs:
Communication is Key to Healthy Sexuality Brochure
Department of Health FAQs
HPV vaccine assistance application
www.cdc.gov/std (check out “safe in the city” video)
www.ashastd.org (check out “prevention tips”)