With all the stigma and fear surrounding sexually transmitted infections (STIs), going out of your way to specifically get tested can seem like a burden. According to the CDC, less than half of Americans ranging from 18 to 44 years old have never EVER been tested for STIs. This is a serious obstacle that cannot be overlooked when talking about sexual health.
Jenelle Marie, founder of The STD Project, takes on this social fear of getting clinically tested by demonstrating just how easy (and shame free!) it really is. She walks us through her real-life experience of going to the clinic (with her boyfriend):
Here are key points to learn from her STI testing experience:
- Health practitioners don’t test for all STIs. You need to ask for specific test to be done, particularly for those which do not always show symptoms, like HPV, Gonorrhea and Syphilis.
- STD testing is available for free!
- Test results are strictly confidential. In most states, once you are 13 years old, you can get tested without a guardian’s involvement. The clinic cannot share your identity and results with anyone.
- Depending on the STI, you may be asked to give a blood sample and a urine sample.
- No single procedure or test will detect all STIs.
- Getting tested is simple, quick (depending if it’s walk-in or appointment) and the trained staff do not make moral judgement on your sexual behavior.
This article was originally published here.
BY JENELLE MARIE | theSTDProject.com
Are you wondering what it’s like to be tested for STIs/STDs?
Step One: Decide whether to schedule an appointment or go on a ‘walk-in’ day (wait is usually much longer, so patience is a virtue should you choose the latter) – I made an appointment as I have little patience 🙂
Step Two: Fill out some paperwork (this is the government we’re talking about) – HIV testing is the only test they can do completely anonymously (if they do rapid-tests onsite) where they do not require a name (they give you a number) or a lot of other information – this health department did their HIV tests on-site (which means results in 15 minutes), but I was also testing for 3 other STDs, so the paperwork was still required.
For those clinics that do not have rapid-tests, HIV tests will only be confidential. Confidential testing means you must fill out your name and birthday and answer questions about your sexual experiences. This DOES NOT mean they will call your parents or your partners and tell them your test results – test results are strictly confidential. The health department asks that you tell all future partners but does not make you retro-actively tell people, because, presumably, you wouldn’t have known you were positive for an STD until now.
Also, it is very important you answer the questionnaire with complete honesty – depending on the type of sexual activities in which you engage, they may do STD testing for additional types of STDs or they may test different areas of your body for STDs – chlamydia and gonorrhea can both be in the throat or anus, for example.
Lastly, the women my boyfriend and I met made no assumptions or judgments about the types of activities we enjoy – they simply share the risks and make sure you’re safe in all directions (your mind is whirling now, I’m sure). 🙂
Step Three: When your name gets called, a nurse takes you back, asks some additional questions, sometimes does a little preventative counseling and starts the tests by giving you a finger prick.
The finger prick begins the rapid blood test for HIV which is complete 15 minutes later.
Next, a traditional blood sample is taken from your arm for Syphilis testing. The Syphilis is sent to a lab and results are available 7 business days later along with your Chlamydia and Gonorrhea test results.
Step Four: Pee on your hand while attempting to pee into an impossibly small cup for Chlamydia and Gonorrhea testing (you do this in a private bathroom, so no one has to watch you wonder whether to pull up your pants with pee on your fingers or waddle over to the sink for washing – pants still at your ankles).
Important to note: the longer you hold your pee, the better – anything over not having urinated in an hour should be good.
The nurse said chlamydia and gonorrhea bacteria flush out and are harder to detect when having urinated recently; however, after a longer duration of time, they come back again.
Unfortunately, peeing profusely will not make your STD go away. Dang it!
Step Five: Meet the nurse back in the testing room, get your HIV results, and your FREE CONDOMS!!!! YEY!!!
Who doesn’t love free condoms?!?!
I say, you might as well go get STD tested just for the free condoms!!! (I’ll say anything – obviously – to convince you STD testing is totally harmless and will make you feel much much better!)
THE STD PROJECT is a multi-award-winning independent website and progressive movement eradicating STD stigma by facilitating and encouraging awareness, education, and acceptance through story-telling and resource recommendations. Fearlessly led by Founder, Jenelle Marie, The STD Project is committed to modern-day sexual health and prevention by advocating for conscientious and informed decisions. Find them on twitter @theSTDProject