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Price and access to a doctor’s office shouldn’t keep you from getting tested for sexually transmitted infections (STIs). Here are resources that can help you stay on top of your health.

illustration of three rows of chairs sporadically populated with folks waiting to be called back for STI testing or treatment, with one person wearing a yellow blouse and red trousers walking back to meet the doctorShare on Pinterest
Illustrations by Maya Chastain

Cost and access to testing facilities shouldn’t be obstacles to managing your health.

There are plenty of no- and lower cost and convenient ways to get tested for STIs — some of which you don’t even have to leave home for. This makes getting tested regularly easier.

Below, we break down your options for at-home and in-person testing, including some of the best free and lower cost testing locations in all 50 states and Washington, D.C., so you have access to testing no matter where you are.

The short answer: Most STIs are completely asymptomatic. And untreated STIs can lead to a slew of health issues, including pain, increased susceptibility to other STIs, pelvic inflammatory disease, or kidney damage, to name just a few.

There’s also this: Although STIs can be cured or treated with medication, you can’t get those meds if you don’t know you need them.

Fear that someone — be it a parent, a partner, or someone else — might find out about the test or its results keeps many folks from accessing sexual healthcare.

But all information, including test results, shared with a doctor or other healthcare professional is confidential.

Any personal information that your healthcare professionals asks for is used to give you the best possible care and to contact you about your results.

While the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) requires that labs and healthcare professionals notify it of a positive STI result for any of the following, your name or other identifying details are not attached to this information:

All information shared with a doctor or other healthcare professional is confidential.

Minors are able to consent to STI testing in all 50 states and Washington, D.C.

And no state requires that the healthcare professional notify guardians about this service (so long as the minor is over the age of 12).

However, 18 states — which you can find listed here — allow doctors and other healthcare professionals to inform guardians that a minor sought STI services.

It depends. STI testing can be free or cost hundreds of dollars. How much you pay depends on:

  • where you live
  • where you undergo STI testing, such as a doctor’s office, health clinic, health department, or at home using a test kit
  • your income (some facilities use a sliding scale)
  • what tests you need
  • what insurance you have, if any

Some insurance plans, including Medicare, and certain government programs may cover part or all of the cost of STI testing. In some areas, it’s possible to get free STI tests.

If you need a lower cost testing option, you may be able to find testing for about $40. As a general rule, local Planned Parenthoods, health clinics, and mobile testing clinics are going to be cheaper than a visit to an OB-GYN or urgent care.

At-home STI tests, while convenient, private, and more accessible for people without reliable transportation, are generally more costly.

While you can usually find a kit that tests for one or two STIs for under $80, full panel tests can costs hundreds of dollars. For example, this 14 panel test costs more than $300.

The CDC recommends that all sexually active women under the age of 25, women over the age of 25 with new or multiple sex partners, and sexually active gay and bisexual men be tested for chlamydia and gonorrhea at least once a year.

“Folks of all genders and sexual orientations should be tested once a year, after unprotected sex, or in between new partners — whichever comes first,” says health expert and author Sherry A. Ross, MD.

It’s a good idea to get tested anytime you have sex without a barrier with someone who has an STI or whose STI status you don’t know. The same goes if the condom or dental dam split or slipped off during anal, oral, or vaginal sex.

You and your partner(s) should each get tested before you go without a barrier or intentionally swap bodily juices (aka fluid bond).

“You should also get tested if you suspect that your partner has been cheating on you,” adds Kecia Gaither, MD, double board certified in OB-GYN and maternal-fetal medicine, and director of perinatal services at NYC Health + Hospitals/Lincoln.

What STIs you get tested for and where on your body a doctor or other healthcare professional tests depends on things like:

  • how you engage sexually
  • what (if any) symptoms you (or your partner/s) have
  • whether you have a previous or current partner who’s tested positive for an STI
  • is you use barrier methods
  • if you or your partner(s) have ever used injectable substances

Based on this information, you may then be given one or more of the following tests:

  • Blood test: A blood sample is taken by finger prick or blood draw from your arm. If using an at-home test, a small lancet is provided to use on your finger to collect a small sample of blood that is then sent to an accredited lab for testing.
  • Urine test: In a doctor’s office or health clinic, this requires peeing in a collection container. At-home tests requiring a urine sample will provide a container that you then send to a lab for testing.
  • Genital swab: A cotton swab is used to collect discharge or a cell sampling, on the penis, vulva, urethra, cervix, and vagina.
  • Oral swab: A swab is used to collect samples from the throat, mouth, lips, and tongue. HIV can also be tested by using a cheek swab.
  • Anal swab: A long swab is inserted into your anus to collect a sample of cells.
  • Site-specific swab: If you have a sore, blister, bump, or lesion anywhere on your body, a swab is used to collect a discharge or cell sample of the affected area.
Blood testUrine Swab (genital)Swab (oral)Swab (anal)Swab (site-specfic)
hepatitis BX
hepatitis CX
herpes (HSV)XXX

How long it can take to get results

Generally, a healthcare professional will wait until they have the results from all the STI tests performed to call you. If you still haven’t heard back after a week, don’t assume the test(s) was negative. Call to learn your results.

If you opt for an at-home test, results may be available for you to view online in just a couple of business days or up to one week, depending on the company you choose.

Considering an at-home STI test?

There are a number of direct-to-consumer health test companies that offer STI tests you can take in the privacy of your own home.

These kits require you to collect your own sample (blood, urine, or swab, depending on the test). Once you’re finished handling your collection, you’ll package and ship it to the lab for testing, using the provided labeling.

Although these kits are typically pricier than the other testing options on the list, they’re a great option for folks who don’t have access to an in-person facility.

Learn more about the different types of kits available, including how much they cost, how the sample is collected, and how the treatment is administered.

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Here are a few at-home STI tests that we recommend:

In-person testing is available in every state and can lead to quick treatment. Wherever you are, the following are good starting points to find a test location near you.

Local health departments

Thanks to federal and state funding, most city and county health departments are able to offer free or lower-cost STI testing. They also test for most STIs, including HIV, herpes, gonorrhea, chlamydia, and more.

You can find information about your local health department from this CDC guide.

Planned Parenthood locations

Planned Parenthood clinics receive some government funds and base their fees on a sliding scale, meaning what you pay depends on your personal income, demographic factors, and assistance eligibility.

If you have a lower-income household, it’s very possible that you won’t have to pay anything.

Find the Planned Parenthood closest to you by entering your ZIP code, city, or state here.

Nonprofit organizations

Local nonprofit orgs sometimes run health clinics that provide STI testing.

What STI tests are available will vary from city to city and clinic to clinic, but most will test (at the very least) for:

  • gonorrhea
  • chlamydia
  • HIV

Because these clinics usually receive money from federal grants, donations, and fundraisers, testing is completely free, or available at a much lower cost.

To find one near you, try Googling “sexual health clinic near me” or “[insert your city here] STI testing clinic.”

Mobile clinics

Mobile clinics are souped-up vans that travel through rural and urban areas to offer high quality healthcare at a lower cost. STI testing and treatment is one of the (many!) services they typically offer.

Research from 2020 estimates there are approximately 2,000 mobile clinics traveling throughout the United States at any given time. To find one near you, search Mobile Health Map.

College and university health centers

Since nearly half of new STI diagnoses occur in young people ages 15 to 24, most colleges and universities provide free or lower-cost STI testing to their students. (In case you were wondering: The most common STI on college campuses is chlamydia).

Call your school’s health center to learn what STIs they’re able to test for.

LGBTQIA+ centers

Most medium and large cities have local LGBTQIA+ centers that either:

  • offer STI testing for folks in the LGBTQIA+ community
  • have a directory of local LGBTQIA+ friendly providers who offer STI testing

To find your local LGBTQIA+ center, check out this CenterLink LGBT Community Center Member Directory. Enter your location, find the community center nearest you, and call them up for info about STI testing.

You can find a LGBTQIA+ friendly testing center through one of the following means:

  • Google “STI clinic near me + LGBTQIA” (or a similar search term).
  • Search the Gay and Lesbian Medical Association (GLMA) provider directory.
  • Go to the nearest Planned Parenthood, which offers more affordable care and LGBTQIA+ services in all 50 states and Washington, D.C.

Urgent care clinic

This is a great option for folks who want to get tested NOW. STI testing may not be your local walk-in clinic’s main jam, but they almost always offer it.

Avoid crisis pregnancy centers

When seeking out a place to get tested, you’ll want to avoid crisis pregnancy centers (CPCs). These nonprofit organizations ignore prevailing medical standards of sexual and reproductive healthcare and aim to keep individuals who are able to become pregnant from accessing abortion.

While some CPCs do test for STIs, very few actually offer treatment for a positive diagnosis.

Make sure the clinic you’re considering isn’t a CPC by entering the location into the Crisis Pregnancy Center Map.

Online STI clinic finders can help you find a lower-cost or free testing location right near you. Here are some of the most common:

At the end of this article, we have included an extensive list of locations offering access to free or low-cost testing in each state. The list is organized by United States region: Northeast, Southeast, Midwest, Southwest, and West.

You’ll get a separate result for every STI that you get tested for. That means you might get negative results across the board. Or you might test positive for one (or more) STIs, or what’s known as co-infection.

“Some STIs can make you more susceptible to other STIs,” Ross says.

Untreated gonorrhea and chlamydia, for example, can both increase the likelihood of contracting HIV if you have sex with someone who’s HIV positive without a condom or other barrier method.

If you tested negative for all STIs

No treatment is needed. Continue using barrier methods.

If, however, you had sex without a barrier, experts recommend getting tested at least 2 weeks after the event, and again at about 3 months after the potential exposure.

If you tested positive for one (or more) STIs

Some STIs are curable with medicine, and some can be managed.

In general, your game plan may involve:

  • starting treatment
  • pausing sexual activity until treatment is complete
  • informing any recent and current sexual partners so they can get tested and treated
  • using barrier methods when you get the green light for sexual activity from a doctor or other healthcare professional
  • getting retested if a doctor or other healthcare professional recommends it

The cost of a full STI panel varies depending on a few variables, like where you get tested and whether or not you have health insurance. Your cost may be zero, or you may get a lowered cost based on your income.

A full STI panel using an at-home test kit can cost upward of $300.

Plenty of health clinics, such as Planned Parenthood Centers, offer free or low cost testing based on income.

You can also your local health department to find out about your nearby free or affordable options.

Depending on the county, you may find free or low cost STD testing in Florida.

If you choose to use a direct-to-consumer company to test for STIs at home, you’ll use tools provided to you in a kit that’s delivered to your door. Some tests require blood, so you’ll use a lancet to prick your finger.

Other tests require urine or a swab method for collecting your sample. Read the instructions carefully and ship your sample back in the time frame the company suggests, and you’ll receive your test results online relatively quickly.

Testing regularly for STIs shouldn’t be limited to having money or being in a certain location.

Search for Planned Parenthood centers near you, or check out your nearest health department for testing options.

If you have questions like, “What should I do next if I test positive for an STI?” or “How long does treatment take?” the healthcare professional doing the testing is your best bet.

For more general information about STIs, check out information from the CDC or Safer STD Testing.

And for helpful resources about testing positive, check out:

Last but not least, remember that you can ask your doctor or other healthcare professional for additional support. For example, if you need help sharing your positive test results with your sexual partner(s), your healthcare professional can notify them anonymously.







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