ALL YOU NEED TO KNOW ABOUT TESTING FOR STIS

You might agree with me when I say that the word ‘testing’ is not synonymous with the word ‘fun’.  Testing might evoke memories of flunking a high school exam, being pulled over for a RBT or a work performance assessment. The point is, testing is a sore spot for many of us.

So when it comes to testing for STIs, more often than not we might avoid seeking out information when we really should.

So should you? Are you a gay or bisexual guy who has sex with other guys? Yes?

If you answered:

Or any variation of ‘yes’, then statistically speaking you are more likely to be at risk of contracting STIs, so therefore you should get tested.

A lot of what can hold us up when it comes to testing is lack of knowledge, so let’s demystify some of what testing for STIs looks like.

Getting a test: which one should I get?

A full sexual health screen will involve a number of different tests, to identify different types of sexually transmitted infections (STIs). You won’t always show symptoms for STIs, so if you haven’t had a check-up in a while it can be a good idea to get a full screen.

Generally, a comprehensive STI screen includes:

  • Swab of your throat to test for chlamydia and gonorrhoea
  • Urine test for chlamydia and gonorrhoea. You’re given a cup to fill about half way and it must be the first part of the flow
  • Anal swab for chlamydia and gonorrhoea. You insert a cotton tip-like stick about 3cm into your anus and twirl slightly
  • Urethral (penis or front hole) swab to test for chlamydia and gonorrhoea
  • A blood test for HIV, syphilis and hepatitis A, B and C

It’s important to note that this isn’t an exhaustive list of STIs you can test for, but the most common amongst gay and other guys who have sex with guys. If you are experiencing symptoms, or have been informed by your partner that you might have been exposed to a specific STI you should let you sexual health specialist know and they can guide you to the best tests for your circumstance.

Why should I test for HIV and other STIs?

While testing for both HIV and STIs is no news, the need for us to keep testing top of mind is important now more than ever.

With the introduction of HIV prevention methods, like PrEP (pre-exposure prophylaxis), and UVL (undetectable viral load), more guys are ‘doing it’ in ways that don’t always involve a condom – and that’s OK. What that means is now we should be more vigilant and aware of the impact other STIs may have, and part of that thinking should involve comprehensive testing.

Where should I get tested?

We are living in a mobile world, and when you are moving around frequently something you’ll find yourself having to do is find new health services. We can link you to a number of HIV and STI testing locations (both at GPs and sexual health clinics) across New South Wales with our where to get tested tool.

Located in the Sydney metro area? You could also consider getting a test at a[TEST]; a fast, free and confidential rapid HIV testing and STI screening service available in four different locations.

If you still have any burning questions or are experiencing any burning sensations, get in touch with your sexual health care provider for a test. After all, if testing is a sore spot for you, wouldn’t it be better to get it checked out?