Testing for Sexually Transmitted Infections (or “STI’s”)

Why get tested?

Generally, anyone who has had intimate contact with another person could have a STI.  Sexual contact includes genital skin to skin contact, intimate body fluid contact, and/or vaginal, penile, oral, or anal contact.  Testing is tailored to your personal circumstances.  If you have never done STI screening previously, we invite you to meet with a peer educator at Prevention & Wellness, (360) 650-2993.  Most STIs are asymptomatic, so being informed about how to protect yourself and getting checked are important ways to prevent getting (and sharing) STIs.

STI symptoms

If you are symptomatic, you might notice some of the following:  discomfort urinating, discomfort after ejaculation, frequent urination, new vaginal/penile/anal discharge or odor, genital or pelvic pain, new rashes, sores or bumps on your skin, bleeding after sex, or painful intercourse.  Feel free to schedule first at the Student Health Center if you have symptoms that concern you.  Our number is (360) 650-3400.

What kinds of tests are available?

Chlamydia, Gonorrhea, HIV, Syphilis, Herpes 1 & 2, Trichomonas, and Hepatitis A, B & C are common tests.  Less common tests are also possible depending on your symptoms & history. Please see our STI Testing Information Guide for more information.

How long will it take to get the results?

It usually takes 3-4 days for test results to return to the clinic.  We typically send you a secure email with your results the same day they return.  A few STIs can be diagnosed the day of your consult.

What will it cost?

Your care at the Student Health Center is free.  If you decide to get medication in the office (as opposed to a pharmacy) or if you decide not to use insurance for lab work, we will bill your student account for these.  For a list of current charges, please see our STI Testing Information Guide.  Condoms are available—and FREE—at the Student Health Center and at the Prevention & Wellness office at Old Main.

Is there a way to be tested for all STIs?

STIs reveal themselves in different ways, at different times.   Some are diagnosed visually and may not appear for several weeks to months.  Others may take up to 4 months to show up in blood tests.  There are also STIs which are more common in certain regions of the state/country/world.  Some are more common with certain behaviors and some in certain age groups.  In general, we don’t test for every STI at every visit.  Rather, you and your provider will discuss what applies to you—and base screening on that.

Which STIs are curable?

STIs caused by bacteria, such as chlamydia or gonorrhea, are generally easy to cure.  Some STIs caused by viruses are not curable, but can be treated.  Your immune system can also sometimes eliminate some viruses, such as HPV and molluscum.

What should I expect at an appointment to be tested?

You will be asked personal questions about your medical and sexual history.  With your consent, a physical exam may also be done.  (We invite you to read about pelvic exams if you’ve never had one before.)  Certain tests involve giving a urine sample, doing a swab test, or drawing blood.  For urine chlamydia & gonorrhea testing, it’s important to have not urinated for an hour prior to giving your sample.  Remember, we are here for you.  It’s your call which tests to do—we’re here to answer your questions and support your health!

How do I arrange an appointment?

For an information-only session about STI testing, call (360) 650-2993 and ask for an appointment with a Peer Sexual Health Educator.

For STI testing, call (360) 650-3400, select option 1, and ask to make an appointment for STI testing.

For more information about STIs:

Department of Health FAQs 
HPV vaccine assistance application 
www.cdc.gov/std
www.ashastd.org (check out “prevention tips”)
www.goaskalice.columbia.edu