What happens at a STI clinic?
If you suspect that you have an STI, then you will need to go and get tested to be sure either way. Your best bet is to visit asexual health or genitourinary medicine (GUM) clinic, since they specialises in sexual health and offer tests and treatments for many STI’s.
Visiting a clinic
When you visit a clinic, you can either make an appointment or attend a drop in session, which means you can just turn up. You can go to a clinic no matter what age you are, and all of your information will remain confidential, even from your parents and family GP if that is what you wish.
You can visit a clinic whether you have STI symptoms or just a regular health concern, but whatever your worry, don’t feel embarrassed at all to talk to the healthcare professionals at the clinic. They will have seen and heard everything before, and be extremely used to providing a variety of tests to give you a thorough check up. If you are under 16, and the clinic feels that you may be at risk, they will discuss your case with a colleague, but you will be fully aware of this.
If you still feel nervous, you don’t have to provide your real name when you attend the clinic, although you can if you prefer. No matter what name you use, it will remain confidential. If your test results will not be available on the same day that you visit, then you will be asked for your contact details so that you can be sent the results. You can choose what method of communication you prefer as well, so you can opt for a phone call, a text or an unmarked letter.
What questions will I be asked?
- When did you last have sex?
- Have you had unprotected sex?
- Have you noticed any symptoms?
- Why do you think you may have an infection?
What do STI tests involve?
- A urine sample
- A blood sample
- Vaginal swabs (which can be done yourself)
- Genital examination
The doctor or nurse will explain what tests they feel you need and will also go through the stages and processes of the tests so that you know exactly what is going on and why. Chlamydia and gonorrhoea will usually require a urine sample, while HIV and syphilis can be tested using a blood sample. Herpes tests aren’t usually done unless you have sores on your genitals or anus, but this can be tested using a swab.
With some tests, you can receive the results and the treatment all in the same day. On the other hand, you may have to wait a couple of weeks for some results, so in these cases the clinic will check how you want to be contacted. If your test results are positive, then the clinic will invite you back to discuss the next stage and your treatment – this will usually be antibiotics. Some infections, such as HIV, have no cure but there are still treatments available that can help. The clinic will be able to point you in the right direction or put you in touch with a counsellor if you wish. If possible, you should get in touch with your sexual partner or ex-partners to advise them to get tested, however if you don’t want to do this then the clinic can do this instead, without revealing who you are.