Testing for HIV and STIs as COVID-19 restrictions start easing in NSW

We’re already half-way through 2020, and what a journey it has been. Now with COVID-19 restrictions starting to ease in NSW, you have more opportunity to get out into the world. How great is that! It goes without saying that health, hygiene and the importance of testing has been a hot topic in recent times. So with that in mind, let’s also ask ourselves if we’re due to get tested for HIV and STIs too.

It’s time to get tested!

Even if you haven’t had a lot of sex since the start of social distancing it could be a great time to test. If you haven’t tested since Sydney Mardi Gras, or in the last 3 months, now is definitely a good time to do so. It could even help give a little structure to what might seem like a chaotic time.

HIV and STI testing is still available during COVID-19

Contrary to what you might think, HIV and STI testing is still available across the state. However, there may be some changes to some testing sites’ operations and opening hours. Whichever service you use, it’s a good idea to call ahead as there may be disruptions.

If you want to get a HIV and STI screen and are currently displaying no symptoms of an infection (asymptomatic) there are several options at your disposal.

Your local Doctor or General Practitioner

Many local doctors and general practitioners (GPs) are still offering their usual services, which can include testing for HIV and STIs. If you haven’t tested with your doctor before, this could be an opportunity to build a relationship with them too.

If you do not have Medicare, just be aware that there may be a cost for your visit. Depending on where you go, the consult with the doctor and costs for the tests can be expensive, so call ahead first.

You may find that some GPs have now moved to a telehealth model, which means you do not even have to attend a doctor’s clinical space, but instead will just have to visit pathology services to do the tests. Look online or call the NSW Sexual Health Infolink on 1800 451 624 for a practice near you.

you[TEST] – a new service to help you test for HIV at home

you[TEST] is a new HIV testing service that’s convenient, free and can be done from the comfort of your home. You connect with a trained peer via virtual appointment who explain the testing options, before getting sent one of two testing kits that are easy to use and allow you to do the test yourself. Learn more about you[TEST] here.

a[TEST] Oxford Street (Sydney)

The a[TEST] Oxford Street site in Darlinghurst, Sydney remains open for business. a[TEST] is a fast, free and confidential rapid HIV and STI testing service in the heart of slowly-coming-back-to-life Oxford Street. If you’re in the area, book an appointment today as they are not accepting any walk-ins at this time.

Sydney Sexual Health Centre (Sydney)

Sydney Sexual Health Centre, right near Martin Place station in  city also remains open. Similar to a[TEST], if you wish to attend, you will need to call ahead and book an appointment as they aren’t accepting walk-in appointments. Visit the Sydney Sexual Health Centre’s website or call (02) 9382 7440 direct to make a booking.

Be considerate of your service

While the COVID-19 situation is improving in NSW, the healthcare system is still under some pressure, so be prepared if they can’t book you in as soon as you’d hoped.

You may also be asked additional screening questions when you call to book too, such as how well you’re feeling or if you’ve been practising physical distancing. When you visit, you may also be asked the same questions and even have your temperature checked by a staff member. It’s all just new protocol to protect the staff and anyone else who may be visiting the service.

Finally, if you’ve been overseas, you would still need to adhere to the 14-day self-isolation order before attending your appointment.

Now more than ever staying healthy is a priority, so take the time to get tested this winter, especially if it’s been over 3 months since your last sexual health screen.