STI/STDs (sexually transmitted diseases/sexually transmitted infections) are super common and can happen to anyone! Most people will have an STI/STD in their lifetime. That’s why removing stigma and educating yourself and your partner about STI/STDs is super important. Testing for STI/STDs is a key element in having a healthy sex life. At CHWS, we can test for STI/STDs, treat STI/STDs, and answer questions that you have about STI/STD prevention and healthy sex.
The following is a list of STDs/STIs that are common in our region and/or on college campuses along with some information about how testing is done. Cost information is current as of 2023, but is subject to change. For more information about STDs/STIs and treatment, please make an appointment, ask a clinician, or check the resources at the bottom of this page.
CHLAMYDIA is the most common STI/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. A combination chlamydia/gonorrhea urine test is $77 at CHWS. Chlamydia can usually be effectively treated with antibiotics. More than 95% of people will be cured if they take their antibiotics correctly.
GENITAL WARTS are caused by a virus called HPV or human papilloma virus. 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 ($43) and HPV testing ($49) are available through CHWS. Results are back from the lab in 1–3 weeks. HPV vaccine is available for people of all genders–ask about it! If your warts aren't causing discomfort, you might not need treatment. But if you have itching, burning and pain, or if you're concerned about spreading the infection, your health care provider can go over options such as medications or surgery. Do not use over-the-counter wart remover on genital warts.
HERPES or HSV is another common viral STI/STD. Herpes can cause genital and oral sores that look like blisters. Type 2 herpes is usually associated with genital symptoms; type 1 is associated 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 $49. 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. 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. Treatment of herpes depends on the severity of disease, the type of HSV, your sexual activity and other medical factors. Talk with your provider about options.
GONORRHEA is caused by a bacterium and can be present without symptoms, or, it may cause vaginal or urethral discharge and burning. A combined urine test for chlamydia and gonorrhea is $77. Gonorrhea is treated with an intramuscular injection of antibiotics.
HIV is caused by a virus and, at CHWS, is tested with a blood sample. Results return from the lab in 5–7 days and are usually given in person by appointment. The cost of the test is $30. There is no cure for HIV, but consistent antiretroviral therapy (ART) can reduce the amount of HIV in your body.
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 $14. Results are back in 3–5 days. One sample of blood can be used to test for HIV, syphilis and hepatitis testing. Treatment consists of antibiotics.
HEPATITIS: Hepatitis B is caused by a virus spread through blood and body fluids. Most students have had the 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 Hepatitis C causes milder symptoms at first, it is more likely to develop into chronic disease which can lead to serious health problems. Hepatitis B testing costs $30 and hepatitis C testing costs $44. Treatment consists of antivirals.
IF YOU HAVE QUESTIONS OR WANT MORE INFORMATION, ASK US!
- Tacoma Pierce County Health Department
- The Rainbow Center
- Pierce County AIDS Foundation (P-CAF)
- Planned Parenthood