PSA for all of our Westie besties!

Here’s where to get tested in The Area

Want to know your status but don’t have immediate access to a Sydney city-based sexual health clinic? Are you exhibiting symptoms but don’t want to schlep to Oxford St. to check? As a Blacktown baddie myself, I totally feel that. Don’t fret, though – we have some great resources here out West, and I’ve put together this guide for all your testing needs.

While The Area may not always have the glitter and rainbows, the spirit and the love is still there (with plenty of medical allies, too!). So, for all our babes in the ‘burbs, here are some spots in Western Sydney to get your HIV and STI screening.

The GP

General practitioners are a great spot to get the testing process started. HIV/STI tests and consultations are free for those with Medicare, so long as you visit a bulk billing GP. For those without a Medicare card, I’d recommend heading to a sexual health clinic – if this is you, you can skip to the sexual health clinics heading below. 

Most GPs facilitate walk-ins, but it’s always best to call ahead and see what the practice prefers. It’s important to find a GP that you feel comfortable sharing your sex life with. If you think your family doctor would be fine, then go for it! Otherwise, you might like to ask for recommendations from your friends.

Read more: Getting tested with a GP 

At the appointment, all you have to do is ask for an HIV/STI screen – these are also simply known as ‘STI tests’ or ‘STI checks’. Your doctor will ask a brief and straightforward set of questions regarding the nature of your sexual activity, which will help determine what samples will need to be collected (i.e. ‘When did you last have sex?’, ‘Did you use condoms?’, ‘Was this with a regular or casual partner?‘). It may feel awkward at first, but it’s an important step. It’ll be over before you know it, I promise!

Your doctor will then give you a pathology form for you to bring to a pathologist. They may collect a mixture of, if not all, of the following:

  • Blood test for HIV and syphilis
  • Anal/bum swab for chlamydia and gonorrhoea
  • Throat/mouth swab for chlamydia and gonorrhoea
  • Urine sample for chlamydia

There are many GPs in Western Sydney that also have an on-site pathology suite, so you can get both the pathology form and the test completed all in one spot. 

Here are some examples of GPs with pathology that bulk bill (at the time of writing this). There may be one closer to you, so research accordingly.

You’ll need to set up a follow-up appointment with your GP to receive and discuss your results. It often takes 2-3 business days to process your samples, so aim for then. If anything urgent appears, you will be contacted by the GP.

Most GPs should be able to provide general sexual health screening and STI treatment when necessary, but in the instance where more expertise is needed, your doctor may refer you to a sexual health clinic.

Sexual health clinics

There are multiple key sexual health clinics across Western Sydney. These are free and confidential services for assistance and guidance with most, if not all, of your sexual health queries and concerns. Getting a test at the clinic won’t require a Medicare card and is ideal for those who desire and require discretion.  

Here are the five public sexual health clinics based in Western Sydney:

First Nations folks might also consider getting tested at GWAHs (Greater Western Aboriginal Health Service, Mt Druitt/Penrith/Katoomba) – a Western Sydney based health service offering health checks, GP services, chronic disease programs, men’s health, drug and alcohol and mental health and child and family services.

You may need to call ahead and book an appointment, as they may not always facilitate non-urgent walk-ins. If possible, consider calling a week in advance to secure a spot. These appointments will run very similarly to those with a GP.

Pop-up sexual health testing

ACON has roving community outreach programs to assist those who want to get tested in non-metropolitan and outer-city regions of NSW. These often appear as ‘pop-up clinics’, and are mostly found as part of key local queer events (e.g. fair days, organisation-run parties). Keep an eye out on ACON’s Facebook and Instagram – there may be one near you soon.

HIV self-testing kits

Similar to a COVID-19 RAT test, an HIV self-testing kit is an option that is discrete, convenient, and easy to use – perfect for when you’re in a pinch or want to know your status a little quicker. 

These kits simply require a drop of blood from your fingertip, and will have your results in 15 minutes. HIV self-testing kits can be purchased from most pharmacies and chemists, ranging from $20 to $30. Alternatively, you can order kits online for free from HIV Self-Testing Australia, with express delivery available.

Read more: All About HIV Self-Tests: Testing For HIV At Home | Ending HIV

Mark Mariano (he/him) is a Filipino writer, model and podcast producer from Doonside in Western Sydney on Dharug land. Proudly queer, his work has been featured on Buzzfeed, SBS, ABC, and Queerstories. In 2023, he contributed to ACON’s editorial anthology ‘Stories Out West’, and starred in their ‘With Love’ campaign for Sydney WorldPride as ‘sexy sickly bear’. Mark loves thrifting and crying on public transport in hopes of getting scouted for a Netflix series.