Ways to get tested for HIV and STIs during the pandemic
For us gay, bi, queer and other guys into guys, getting tested for HIV and STIs is part of our culture. We know that testing regularly keeps us and our partners safe.
While the pandemic may have impacted our testing routines, there are still ways to get tested – with some options that are more convenient than ever.
Connect with a peer and test for HIV with you[TEST]
you[TEST] is a free and convenient HIV testing service that is run by ACON. With you[TEST], you connect with a peer educator (another guy from the community – just like you) via virtual consultation where they will explain how to complete the test and can answer any sexual health questions you might have.
One of the benefits of you[TEST] is having a peer guide you through the testing process. So, if you have any apprehension about testing for HIV yourself, this can be a great option. You’ll then get a test kit delivered to you – anywhere across NSW – which can be completed at home or wherever you feel comfortable.
Test for HIV at home with a DBS kit
Another option to get tested for HIV at home for free is by ordering a DBS (dried blood spot) test. The DBS test requires you to perform the test at home then send the sample back for testing before getting your result. Learn more about DBS here.
Buy a HIV self-test kit at a pharmacy in-store or online
HIV self-test kits have recently been approved for sale in Australia. Currently, they are available at a limited number of pharmacies with more on the horizon. In NSW, there are only a couple pharmacies that stock them at this stage.
HIV self-tests work similar to the Rapid Antigen Testing kits available for COVID-19. You perform the test at home and, after a short wait, the device with show your result.
For more info on HST kits, click here. (Hint: to see the list of pharmacies where they can be purchased from, scroll to the FAQ section at the bottom of the page!)
Use PrEP and looking to do your routine check-up?
If you take PrEP and are looking to do your quarterly check-up, it’s recommended to get tested with a healthcare professional so that a comprehensive sexual health check can be done. This consists of testing for HIV, STIs and checking kidney function which can’t be done with any of the at-home or the HIV self-testing options available – such as you[TEST], DBS or HIV self-testing kits – as they only test for HIV.
Get tested at a sexual health clinic
Booking at sexual health clinics can be a little tricky right now, as many health workers have been redeployed to the COVID-19 response. So, if you don’t have luck booking in with your first call, be patient! Some clinics may also have amended service offerings or protocols due to COVID-19, so be sure to ask and check if there are any changes to what you may be used to.
You can find a list of testing sites via the where to get tested tool, or you can call the NSW Sexual Health Infolink on 1800 451 624 to speak with a sexual health nurse, and they can direct you to your closest open clinic.
Get tested with your local doctor/GP
If you can’t get tested at a sexual health clinic, check with your local doctor/GP (General Practitioner).
Like sexual health clinics, some doctor/GPs may have altered opening hours due to COVID-19 or may have extended wait times as they provide COVID-19 vaccinations, so prepare to potentially wait a little longer for an appointment.
If your doctor/GP requires you to visit a separate pathology to conduct the tests, make sure to ask if they can recommend a particular pathology service, as some pathologies have been redirected to solely support COVID-19 testing. This will save you time searching and hopefully speed up getting your results back.
What if I’ve been told I’ve been exposed to an STI or if I have symptoms?
If one of your partners has told you they’ve tested positive for an STI or you are experiencing symptoms of an STI, you should get tested and treated with a healthcare professional. When you call to make the appointment, make sure to inform them of your circumstance and be sure to hold off having sex for the meantime.
I can’t find a place to get tested, what should I do?
You can call the NSW Sexual Health Infolink (1800 451 624) to see what your options are.