There is no one test that can screen for all STDs (sexually transmitted diseases). The following is a list of STDs that are common in our part of the world and on college campuses along with some information about how testing is done. Cost information is current as of April, 2010, and is subject to change. For more information on consequences of these infections and treatment, ask a clinician, find a detailed brochure in the hallway, or check the CHWS website links on STDs.
CHLAMYDIA is the most common STD that is caused by a bacterium. Symptoms can include burning with urination; discharge from the urethra or vagina; and, in women, vaginal bleeding after sex. Often, there are no symptoms. During an exam, a sample is taken from the cervix (in women) or the urethra (in men) with a swab. Testing can also be done on a urine sample, as long as the person being tested has not urinated for at least 2 hours before giving the sample. Test results are back from the lab in 7-10 days. The test costs $33 at CHWS.
GENITAL WARTS, caused by a virus called HPV or human papilloma virus, are also very common. There is not a screening test for genital warts. Diagnosis is made by having an exam/visual inspection for visible warts. HPV can be present and transmitted to a partner even if there are no visible warts. A few types of HPV are associated with cervical cancer, which is detected by Pap smear. If the Pap smear is abnormal, another test can be sent to the lab to check for high risk HPV types that are associated with cervical cancer. Pap smears ($23) and HPV typing (starting at $56 with possible additional charges depending on results) are available through CHWS. Results are back from the lab in 1-3 weeks. HPV vaccine is available for both women and men. Ask about it!
HERPES or HSV is another common viral STD. Herpes can cause genital and oral sores. Type 2 herpes is usually associated with genital symptoms; type 1 with oral symptoms, although you can have either type in either or both parts of the body. A culture of the sore can be taken with a Q-tip and sent to the lab. This costs $39. Results are available in about one week. Some people who have herpes do not have symptoms but can still transmit the infection. There is a blood test that checks for antibodies to the virus which develop 2-3 months after exposure. The test is expensive, though: Type 2 only is $34; type 1 and 2 is $67. Many people have antibodies to herpes type 1 from non-sexually acquired childhood infection. Talk with your clinician about the advisability of doing the tests.
GONORRHEA is caused by a bacterium and can be present without symptoms, or, it may cause discharge and burning. In this part of the country, gonorrhea is uncommon, except among men who have sex with other men. The test is done in the same way as Chlamydia testing (see above.) Cost is $33.
HIV is caused by a virus and, at CHWS, is tested with a blood sample. When testing is done, there is a risk assessment and counseling session. Blood is drawn from your arm. Anonymous testing is available at CHWS. Results return from the lab in 5-7 days and are usually given in person by appointment. The cost of the test is $18.
SYPHILIS is caused by a bacteria. Screening involves a blood test. Syphilis is more common in this part of the country among men who have sex with men, although anyone can become infected through intimate contact. The test costs $10. Results are back in 3-5 days. One sample of blood can be used for HIV, syphilis and hepatitis testing, unless anonymous HIV testing is done.
HEPATITIS. Hepatitis B is caused by a virus spread through blood and body fluids. Most students have had Hepatitis B vaccine, a series of 3 shots, and should be immune. Hepatitis C is also caused by a virus spread through blood and, less commonly, through sex. Though hepatitic C causes milder symptoms at first, it is more likely to develop in to chronic disease which can lead to serious health problems.
IF YOU HAVE QUESTIONS OR WANT MORE INFORMATION, ASK US!