Knowing what to expect when you get tested for a Sexually Transmitted Infection (STI) can alleviate some of the mystery and fear associated with the testing. Not all STIs are tested for in the same way and there is not one test for all STIs. Here are some of the Frequently Asked Questions about testing for Sexually Transmitted Infections:
- Will my parents find out about this visit?
- What tests can I have done?
- Do I have to have blood drawn to be tested?
- How much will it cost to be tested?
- How long will it take to get the results?
- Can I get my results over the telephone or via email?
- How often should I get tested?
- Can I have the test for “everything”?
- Can I get tested so that we can stop using condoms?
- My partner has something and I don’t know what it is. Can I be tested and treated?
- My partner got more tests than you are giving me. Why is that?
- My girlfriend has an abnormal pap smear. Can I get tested?
- What are the screening tests for men who have sex with men?
Will my parents find out about this visit?
No. All visits to the health centers are confidential. Information about your visits can only be released to your parents with your written permission.
What tests can I have done?
The available tests include: HIV,syphilis, gonorrhea, chlamydia, Hepatitis A, B and C, herpes and trichomoniasis. However, not everyone needs every test. The testing recommended will depend on your sexual behaviors, history of previous STIs or current STI and whether you have symptoms or not.
Do I have to have blood drawn to be tested?
That depends on what tests are being done:
- Gonorrhea and Chlamydia can be done with urine (in both men and women) or from a cervical swab or pap smear in women.
- HIV requires blood in this setting. However there is a rapid result test that can be done with a finger stick. Rutgers Health Services hold HIV rapid testing clinics usually 3-4 times per school year. Ask your clinician for planned dates.
- Herpes involves a swab of the lesion or a blood test. A positive blood test may indicate an exposure at some time in your life. Routine screening for herpes via blood is not recommended.
- Hepatitis A, B and C require blood.
- Syphilis requires blood.
- There is no blood or urine test for HPV. In women, HPV is tested for by performing a Pap smear. An initial Pap smear is indicated after age 21.
How much will it cost to be tested?
Laboratory tests for STIs are covered in the same way as any other laboratory test.
How long will it take to get the results?
The results are usually returned within a week.
Can I get my results over the telephone or via email?
Yes this is possible. You need to discuss this with your clinician to come to an agreement about this. You may have test results emailed to you via secure email. Your clinician may prefer having you come back to discuss any other questions or concerns.
How often should I get tested?
The CDC currently recommends that everyone should be tested annually for HIV, annually for Chlamydia (in women younger than 25 years old) and every 3-6 months in those previously infected and Pap smears every one to two years (after age 21). The frequency of testing for other infections depends upon your sexual behaviors/risk factors.
Can I have the test for “everything”?
There is no one test for “everything” and there a some infections for which there are no screening tests. Recommended testing depends on your personal risk factors and symptoms.
Can I get tested so that we can stop using condoms?
Most college students are not in a permanent, mutually monogamous relationship. Therefore, we strongly encourage the continued consistent use of condoms.
My partner has something and I don’t know what it is. Can I be tested and treated?
Yes you can. However, since there are many infections, it would be helpful to know what your partner has.
My partner got more tests than you are giving me. Why is that?
An individual’s symptoms, past infections, past and present sexual behaviors along with the recommendations from the CDC, NIH and USPSTF determines what tests are indicated.
My girlfriend has an abnormal pap smear. Can I get tested?
Pap smears are a screening test for cervical cancer. An abnormal Pap smear does not mean that she has cervical cancer or will ever develop cervical cancer. It does mean that she needs gynecology follow up. An abnormal Pap is often related to having HPV. This is no similar test for HPV in men. If you have visible warts, they can be treated but if there is nothing visible, there is nothing to treat.
What screening tests are recommended for men who have sex with men?
You should be tested at least annually for the following STD’s:
- Chlamydia & Gonorrhea (Urine test), and possibly a rectal swab depending upon behaviors
- Blood tests for syphilis and HIV.
- Genital examination for HPV & molluscum contagiosum.
- Immunizations for Hepatitis A & B, Gardasil vaccine