Earlier this year I wrote a few posts about STI/STD testing. I’m still not satisfied with the lack of HSV testing available via public testing options. But that doesn’t mean that I still don’t need to get my regular STI testing done. I decided to up my testing from every 6 months to every 3 months just in an attempt to be more proactive to help protect my partners and myself.
You will recall, last time I tested I used the services of STD Test Express . I paid out of pocket and had a very thorough panel ran at a local lab. It was very convenient.
Shortly after that post, talking about my experience with a friend, he noted that I hadn’t listed C.A.R.E.S (Community AIDS Resource and Education Services) as a local public testing option. They offer a once a month testing opportunity where they pair with the health department to offer HIV as well as Chlamydia, Gonorrhea and Syphilis testing. That is when I decided I would test there next, just so I could report on my experience.
I called and made an appointment for testing the morning of their monthly date. Space is limited so I suggest not cutting it that close.
I was met by a nurse from the health department first. She drew my blood, swabbed my throat and gave me directions for the rest of my tests. Yes, she swabbed my throat. That was a new one for me. Also a new one for me was being instructed to take an anal swab at the time of getting my urine sample. Wow! I was actually impressed. (I was relieved that I got to swab my own ass…awkward.) I had never been tested before for anal or oral STDs. I asked about it and the nurse said that they saw a rise in the numbers of oral and anal Gonorrhea so they started testing. According to my results, it looks like they test for oral and anal Gonorrhea and Clamydia.
Next was the frustrating part, I had to wait to get my HIV test. And I mean wait. It took a good 45 minutes or more to get in for my rapid test, meaning I would have the results after 20 minutes. The staff member that administered my test was so nice though, it made up for the wait. She poked my finger and started the test. To fill the 20 minutes, they take the opportunity to discuss your safer sex practices. They take where you are and try to help you find ways to make it safer. So let’s say (and I don’t recommend this) that you just refuse to use condoms. There are steps you can take to at least be safer than you currently are. For example, using lube will help with preventing transmission as there is less chance of tearing, meaning less exchange of bodily fluids. Simple extras like that go a long way, but we don’t teach sex ed that way.
A week or so later, my results were ready by phone, with the option of going into the health department for a certified copy, for those with partners who require written proof.
I will surely use this service again, if not through CARES, at least through the health department. I really appreciated the extra oral and anal testing. There still isn’t a great option for HSV testing, but that is a battle I’m not sure I can do much about.