Testing for STIs, HIV, and Viral Hepatitis
Get tested to know your status. Getting tested gives you the knowledge you need to protect yourself and your partners. Knowing your status helps you take control of your sexual health to protect yourself and others. Testing regularly helps you live your best life.
If you are having sex, getting tested for STIs, HIV, and viral hepatitis are one of the most important things you can do to protect your sexual health.
If you are injecting drugs and sharing equipment or using with someone who is living with HIV or hepatitis C virus (HCV), getting tested for HIV and HCV is one of the easiest things you can do to protect your overall health.
Testing does not always happen as part of a regular checkup and is often not even discussed. Ask your doctor about testing and start an open and honest conversation about your sexual and drug use history.
Getting tested is quick and easy. Your provider may take a blood sample, a urine sample, or a swab from your throat, rectum, or genitals. The type of sex you're having, what drugs and how you're using them, and whether you think you have been exposed to an STI, HIV, or viral hepatitis, may help your provider determine what type of testing is needed.
Since some infections look and act alike, it’s possible you may be tested for multiple infections. It’s important to know that you can get tested for most STIs whether or not you have any symptoms.
If you are not comfortable talking with your regular health care provider about STIs, many clinics provide confidential, free, or low-cost testing. You can even request to do testing from the comfort of your own home without having to go to a clinic. Or if you prefer, you can buy an at-home HIV test at your local pharmacy and get your results in as quick as 20 minutes.
If you test positive for STI, HIV, and/or viral hepatitis, get connected to a provider right away to receive a prescription for treatment. The good news is that most STIs, including HIV and viral hepatitis (VH), are treatable; and some can be easily cured.
STI/HIV/Viral Hepatitis testing may include:
- A urine test — you pee into a cup
- A cheek swab — you rub the inside of your cheek with a soft swab to test for HIV
- A blood test — a nurse or doctor takes blood from your arm or performs a quick finger prick
- A physical exam — a nurse or doctor looks at your genital area to check for warts, sores, rashes, irritation, or discharge
- Testing your sores — a nurse or doctor takes a sample of fluid with a swab from any sores or blisters you have
- A swab test - a nurse or doctor uses a swab to gently take discharge or cell samples from your penis, vagina, urethra, cervix, anus, or throat
STI/HIV/Viral Hepatitis testing recommendations:
- All adults and adolescents from ages 13 to 64 should be tested at least once for HIV.
- All sexually active women younger than 25 years should be tested for gonorrhea and chlamydia every year. Women 25 years and older with risk factors such as new or multiple sex partners should also be tested for gonorrhea and chlamydia every year.
- All pregnant women should be tested for syphilis, HIV, and hepatitis A, B, and C (and vaccinated for A and B if negative) starting early in pregnancy. Pregnant women should also be tested for chlamydia and gonorrhea starting early in pregnancy. Testing should be repeated as needed to protect the health of mothers and their infants.
- All sexually active gay and bisexual men should be tested at least once a year for syphilis, chlamydia, and gonorrhea. Those who have multiple or anonymous partners should be tested more frequently for STIs (i.e., at three- to six-month intervals).
- Sexually active gay and bisexual men may benefit from more frequent HIV testing (e.g., every three to six months).
- Anyone who has condomless sex or shares injection drug equipment should get tested for HIV and hepatitis C at least once a year.