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Public service announcement: You don’t need to choose between your sexual health and paying rent, your gym membership, or, heck, even your morning coffee.
There are plenty of no- and low-cost ways to get tested for sexually transmitted infections (STIs) — no matter where you live. And that means there’s no excuse not to get tested. And regularly!
Below, we break down how often you should get tested and what testing actually entails, plus round up some of the best free and low-cost testing locations in all 50 states.
Get tested now. Thank us for making it so easy later.
Why is testing important?
The short answer: Most STIs are sneaky little suckers that are completely asymptomatic.
And whether you have obvious symptoms or not, STIs that are left untreated can lead to:
- increased susceptibility of other STIs
- pelvic inflammatory disease
- kidney damage
Although all STIs can be cured or treated with meds, you can’t get those meds if you don’t know you need them. Logic!
STI rates continue to climb
According to estimates from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the combined number of cases of syphilis, gonorrhea, and chlamydia reached an all-time high in
According to Alarms.org, which pulled data from the CDC and ranked it all for us, states with the highest number of reported STI cases include:
- South Carolina
- New Mexico
When to test
But health expert Sherry A. Ross, MD, author of “She-ology” and “She-ology, the She-quel,” says these guidelines are considered antiquated by most healthcare professionals.
“Folks of all genders and sexual orientations should be tested once a year, after unprotected sex, or in between new partners — whichever comes first,” she says.
It’s a good idea to get tested anytime you have sex without a barrier — or put the barrier in place after your genitals have already grazed, smashed, or pressed together! — with someone who has an STI or whose STI status you don’t know.
Same goes if the condom or dental dam split or slipped off during anal, oral, or vaginal sex, or you realized after you boned that the barrier had a hole.
You and your boo 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 to expect from testing
What STIs you get tested for and where on your bod your healthcare provider tests depends on things like:
- how you’re getting down and dirty
- 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
- what your safer sex practices include
- if you or your partner(s) have ever used injectable substances
Make sure you’re honest with your healthcare provider about these things so they know what to test for.
Remember: Your doctor is here to help you live your healthiest life, not judge you. (If they do, drop ’em and get a new one.)
There are 6 main types of STI tests
Your doctor can test for the following by taking a blood sample from your finger or arm:
- hepatitis B
- hepatitis C
You’ll have to sign a consent form to get tested for HIV. And to get tested for herpes you’ll have to explicitly ask. Most doctors won’t test for it otherwise.
After you pee in a cup, your urine can be tested for:
Your doctor can swab the penis, vulva, urethra, cervix, and vagina for discharge or a cell sampling to test for:
If you have a vagina, this process usually involves putting a speculum inside your vagina (with the help of lube!) and inserting a long Q-tip inside. It takes about 60 seconds, tops.
It’s possible to have an STI infection of the throat, mouth, lips, and tongue. Your doctor can swab these areas to test for:
Your doctor can also test for HIV using a cheek swab.
Your doctor can test for the following by inserting a long Q-tip into your anus to collect a sample of cells:
- anal chlamydia
If you have a sore, blister, bump, or lesion anywhere on your body, your doctor can swab the spot and test it for:
How long it takes to get results
Generally, your doctor 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. Give ’em a ring to learn your results.
Where to find testing
Congrats! You’ve made the decision to take control of your health and learn your current STI status. But where the heck should you go to get tested if you’re on a budget or don’t have health insurance?
Here’s where to go and what to know.
Local health departments
Thanks to federal and state funding, most city and county health departments are able to offer free or low-cost STI testing.
Almost all local health departments will test for:
Your local health department may also test for other STIs, such as:
- hepatitis B and C
Want to know which STIs they’ll test for before you go? Find your local health department by going to this
Planned Parenthood locations
“You’ll get a great quality of care at Planned Parenthood,” Ross says.
Best part? 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.
So, if you have a low-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 in the search bar at this link.
Ever see posters and signs for your local LGBTQ+ or religious orgs and programming around town? Well guess what — many of these nonprofit orgs run local health clinics that provide STI testing.
What STI tests are available varies city to city and clinic to clinic, but most will test (at the very least) for:
Oh, and because these clinics usually receive money from federal grants, donations, and fundraisers, testing is completely free, or available at a very low cost.
To find one near you, try Googling “sexual health clinic near me” or “[insert your city here] STI testing clinic.”
Mobile clinics are souped-up vans that travel through rural and urban areas to offer high-quality healthcare at a low cost. STI testing and treatment is one of the (many!) services they typically offer.
Research estimates there’s 1,500 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
Call your school’s health center to learn what STIs they’re able to test for.
Most medium and large cities have local LGBTQ+ centers that either:
- offer STI testing for folks in the LGBTQ+ community
- have a directory of local LGBTQ+ friendly providers who offer STI testing
To find your local LGBTQ+ 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.
Not in a big city? Gaither recommends finding a LGBTQ+ friendly testing center through one of the following means:
- Talk to pals in the LGBTQ+ community!
- 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 affordable care and LGBTQ+ 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.
Home testing kits
There are a number of direct-to-consumer companies — such as LetsGetChecked, STD Check, and Nurx — that offer STI testing that you can do from the privacy of your own home.
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 (or won’t go to, for whatever reason) an IRL provider.
Learn more about the different types of kits available, including how much they cost, how the sample is collected, and how treatment is administered.
Avoid crisis pregnancy centers
When seeking out a place to get tested, you’ll want to avoid crisis pregnancy centers (CPCs). These nonprofit orgs ignore prevailing medical standards of sexual and reproductive healthcare and aim to keep vulva owners from accessing abortion.
While some CPCs do test for STIs, very, very few actually offer treatment for a positive diagnosis.
Make sure the clinic you’re en route to get tested at isn’t a CPC by entering the location into the Crisis Pregnancy Center Map.
Testing locations in each state
There are tons of online STI clinic finders you can use to find a low-cost or free testing location right near you.
Here are some of the most common:
- Safer STD Testing
- National Association of County and City Health Officials
- GetTested: National HIV, STD, and Hepatitis Testing
- U.S. Department of Health and Human Services
- The National Association of Free & Charitable Clinics
- Office of Population Affairs Family Planning Clinic Finder
CDC’s Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender Health
Or scroll down for our roundup, where we’ve identified an STI testing location at the top, middle, and bottom region of each state.
Head to any of the below spots and get tested for little or no dough.
- Top: Community Health and Wellness Center of Greater Torrington
- Middle: Community Health Center of Meriden
- Bottom: Planned Parenthood Stamford
- LGBTQ+ friendly: Hartford Gay & Lesbian Health Collective
- Top: Westside Family Healthcare
- Middle: La Red Health Center
- Bottom: ChristianaCare Health System, Georgetown Wellness Clinic
- LGBTQ+ friendly: AIDS Delaware
- Top: HealthReach Community Health Centers (Bingham Area Health Center)
- Middle: HealthReach Community Health Centers (Lovejoy Health Center)
- Bottom: Bucksport Regional Health Center
- LGBTQ+ friendly: Health Equity Alliance
- Top: Anne Arundel County Department of Health (Glen Burnie Health Center)
- Middle: Total Health Care Incorporated (Odenton Health Center)
- Bottom: AFC Urgent Care
- LGBTQ+ friendly: Chase Brexton Health Services
- Top: Planned Parenthood League of Massachusetts (Metro West Health Center)
- Middle: Charles River Community Health (Waltham Clinic)
- Bottom: Edward M. Kennedy Community Health Center (Framingham Health Center)
- LGBTQ+ friendly: Fenway Health
- Top: Coös County Family Health Services
- Middle: Lamprey Health Care (Raymond Center)
- Bottom: Planned Parenthood of Northern New England (Derry Health Center)
- LGBTQ+ friendly: Equality Health Center
- Top: Monroe Medical Associates
- Middle: Ocean Health Initiatives (Lakewood Health Center)
- Bottom: Ocean Health Initiatives (Toms River Health Center)
- LGBTQ+ friendly: Alliance Community Healthcare
- Top: Kaleida Health (Family Planning Center)
- Middle: Planned Parenthood of Central and Western New York Inc. (Syracuse Health Center)
- Bottom: Family Planning of South Central New York Inc.
- LGBTQ+ friendly: Callen-Lorde Community Health Center
- Top: AIDS Resource Alliance
- Middle: Pennsylvania Department of Health (Montour County State Health Center)
- Bottom: Family Planning Plus (Lewistown)
- LGBTQ+ friendly: FIGHT Community Health Centers
- Top: The Miriam Hospital (Infectious Diseases Outpatient Clinics)
- Middle: Comprehensive Community Action Program (Family Health Services of Coventry)
- Bottom: Wood River Health Services
- LGBTQ+ friendly: AIDS Project Rhode Island
- Top: Northern Tier Center for Health (Richford Health Center)
- Middle: University of Vermont Medical Center (Infectious Disease and Travel Program)
- Bottom: Planned Parenthood of Northern New England (Barre Health Center)
- LGBTQ+ friendly: Community Health Centers of Burlington
- Top: Andromeda Transcultural Health Center
- Middle: George Washington Medical Faculty Associates
- Bottom: United Medical Center (Care Center)
- LGBTQ+ friendly: Whitman Walker Health
- Top: Planned Parenthood Southeast Inc. (Birmingham Center)
- Middle: Alabama Department of Public Health (Montgomery County Health Department)
- Bottom: Franklin Primary Health Center Inc. (HE Savage Memorial Center)
- LGBTQ+ friendly: Magic City Wellness Center
- Top: ARcare (Batesville ARcare Medical Clinic)
- Middle: Arkansas Department of Health (Northeast Public Health Region)
- Bottom: Arkansas Department of Health (Lonoke County Health Unit)
- LGBTQ+ friendly: Planned Parenthood (Little Rock Aldersgate Road Health Center)
- Top: Planned Parenthood of South, East, and North Florida (Gainesville Health Center)
- Middle: Central Florida Health Care (Frostproof Medical)
- Bottom: Florida Department of Health in Broward County (Fort Lauderdale Health Center)
- LGBTQ+ friendly: The Center Orlando
- Top: Georgia Department of Public Health (Northeast Health District)
- Middle: Georgia Department of Public Health (South Central Health District)
- Bottom: Georgia Department of Public Health (South Health District)
- LGBTQ+ friendly: AID Atlanta
- Top: GO CARE Community Health Center
- Middle: Louisiana Department of Health (Evangeline Parish Health Unit)
- Bottom: Teche Action Clinic (Pierre Part Health Center)
- LGBTQ+ friendly: CrescentCare
- Top: North Mississippi Primary Health Care Incorporated (Benton Medical Center)
- Middle: Family Health Care Clinic (Raleigh Clinic)
- Bottom: Mississippi State Department of Health (Humphreys County Health Department)
- LGBTQ+ friendly: Open Arms Healthcare Center
- Top: Rural Health Group (Lake Gaston Clinic)
- Middle: Albemarle Regional Health Services (Gates County Health Department)
- Bottom: Pender County Health Department
- LGBTQ+ friendly: Alamance Cares
- Top: Palmetto AIDS Life Support Services of South Carolina
- Middle: HopeHealth
- Bottom: South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control (Beaufort County Health Department)
- LGBTQ+ friendly: Greenville Health System
- Top: Planned Parenthood of Tennessee and North Mississippi (Nashville Health Center)
- Middle: Nashville CARES
- Bottom: Tennessee Department of Health (Lincoln County Health Department)
- LGBTQ+ friendly: Choices: Memphis Center for Reproductive Health
- Top: Virginia Department of Health (Lord Fairfax Health District)
- Middle: Virginia Department of Health (Central Virginia Health District)
- Bottom: Virginia Department of Health (Southside Health District)
- LGBTQ+ friendly: Health Brigade
- Top: Randolph Elkins Health Department
- Middle: Nicholas County Health Department
- Bottom: Pocahontas County Health Department
- LGBTQ+ friendly: Dr. Rainbow
- Top: Whiteside County Health Department (Community Health Clinic)
- Middle: Wabash County Health Department
- Bottom: Southern 7 Health Department (Massac County Clinic)
- LGBTQ+ friendly: Advocate Health
- Top: Planned Parenthood of Indiana and Kentucky Inc. (Mishawaka Health Center)
- Middle: Planned Parenthood of Indiana and Kentucky Inc. (Southside Health Center)
- Bottom: Scott County Health Department
- LGBTQ+ friendly: GenderNexus
- Top: Black Hawk County Health Department
- Middle: Primary Health Care
- Bottom: River Hills Community Health Center (Ottumwa Location)
- LGBTQ+ friendly: University of Iowa
- Top: Phillips County Health Department
- Middle: Russell County Health Department
- Bottom: Reno County Health Department
- LGBTQ+ friendly: Trust Women Wichita Clinic
- Top: Northern Kentucky Independent District Health Department (Grant County Health Center)
- Middle:Planned Parenthood of Indiana and Kentucky Inc. (Bluegrass Health Center)
- Bottom: Bell County Health Department
- LGBTQ+ friendly: Transform Health
- Top: Planned Parenthood of Michigan (Petoskey Health Center)
- Middle: Midland County Department of Public Health
- Bottom: Planned Parenthood of Michigan (Jackson Health Center)
- LGBTQ+ friendly: Cares
- Top: Polk County Public Health
- Middle: Sanford Health (Detroit Lakes Clinic and Same Day Surgery Center)
- Bottom: Planned Parenthood North Central States (Apple Valley Health Center)
- LGBTQ+ friendly: North Memorial Health
- Top: Ralls County Health Department
- Middle: Central Ozarks Medical Center (Camdenton Medical Center)
- Bottom: Ripley County Public Health Department
- LGBTQ+ friendly: Out, Proud, and Healthy
- Top: Western Community Health Resources (Chadron Office)
- Middle: Midtown Health Center (Madison Clinic)
- Bottom: Choice Family Health Care (Grand Island Location)
- LGBTQ+ friendly: OneWorld Community Health Centers
- Top: First District Health Unit (Ward County Minot Office)
- Middle: Northland Health Centers (McClusky Health Center)
- Bottom: Indian Health Service (Standing Rock Service Unit)
- LGBTQ+ friendly: Harbor Health Clinic
- Top: Sandusky County Health Department
- Middle: Galion City Health Department
- Bottom: Portsmouth City Health Department
- LGBTQ+ friendly: MetroHealth Pride Network
- Top: Indian Health Service (Standing Rock Service Unit)
- Middle: Horizon Health Care (Fort Thompson Community Health Center)
- Bottom: Horizon Health Care (Aurora County Community Health Center)
- LGBTQ+ friendly: Black Hills Center for Equality
- Top: Stockbridge-Munsee Health and Wellness Center
- Middle: Planned Parenthood of Wisconsin Inc. (Portage Health Center)
- Bottom: Planned Parenthood of Wisconsin Inc. (Milwaukee-Lincoln Plaza Health Center)
- LGBTQ+ friendly: Madison & Dane County Public Health
- Top: North Country HealthCare (Grand Canyon Clinic)
- Middle: Planned Parenthood Arizona Inc. (Mesa Health Center)
- Bottom: Mariposa Community Health Center (Nogales Campus)
- LGBTQ+ friendly: Living Out Loud Health & Wellness Center
- Top: Planned Parenthood of the Rocky Mountains Inc. (Northeast Heights of Albuquerque Health Center)
- Middle: First Choice Community Healthcare (Belen Center)
- Bottom: New Mexico Department of Health (Ruidoso Public Health Office)
- LGBTQ+ friendly: Transgender Resource Center of New Mexico
- Top: Oklahoma State Department of Health (Cleveland County Health Department)
- Middle: Planned Parenthood Great Plains (Central Oklahoma City Clinic)
- Bottom: Oklahoma State Department of Health (Carter County Health Department)
- LGBTQ+ friendly: HOPE
- Top: Ochiltree General Hospital (Perryton Health Center)
- Middle: Planned Parenthood of Greater Texas (North Austin Health Center)
- Bottom: South Texas Family Planning and Health Corporation (Family Planning Clinic Rockport)
- LGBTQ+ friendly: Legacy Community Health Services
- Top: Maniilaq Association (Maniilaq Health Center)
- Middle: Planned Parenthood of the Great Northwest and the Hawaiian Islands
- Bottom: Anchorage Neighborhood Health Center
- LGBTQ+ friendly: Anchorage Health Department
- Top: San Francisco Community Health Center (Castro Clinic)
- Middle: Planned Parenthood Mar Monte (Fulton Street Health Center)
- Bottom: Los Angeles County Department of Public Health (Central Health Center)
- LGBTQ+ friendly: Lyon-Martin Health Services
- Top: Planned Parenthood of the Rocky Mountains Inc. (Granby Health Center)
- Middle: Planned Parenthood of the Rocky Mountains Inc. (Arvada Health Center)
- Bottom: Pueblo Community Health Center (Grand Avenue Homeless Clinic)
- LGBTQ+ friendly: The Center on Colfax
- Top: Kalihi-Palama Health Center
- Middle: Planned Parenthood of the Great Northwest and the Hawaiian Islands
- Bottom: University of Hawaii at Hilo Student Medical Services
- LGBTQ+ friendly: Lavender Clinic
- Top: Idaho North Central District Health Department
- Middle:Eastern Idaho Public Health (Challis Office)
- Bottom: Planned Parenthood of the Great Northwest and the Hawaiian Islands (Twin Falls Health Center)
- LGBTQ+ friendly: North Idaho AIDS Coalition
- Top: Planned Parenthood of Montana Inc. (Missoula Clinic)
- Middle: Planned Parenthood of Montana Inc. (Helena Clinic)
- Bottom: Bridgercare
- LGBTQ+ friendly: Blue Mountain Clinic
- Top: Northern Nevada HOPES
- Middle: Carson City Health and Human Services
- Bottom: University Medical Center of Southern Nevada
- LGBTQ+ friendly: Huntridge Family Clinic
- Top: Multnomah County Health Department (STD Clinic)
- Middle: Community Health Centers of Lane County
- Bottom: Planned Parenthood of Southwestern Oregon (Medford Health Center)
- LGBTQ+ friendly: Prism Health
- Top: Planned Parenthood Association of Utah (Ogden Health Center)
- Middle: Salt Lake County Health Department (STD/HIV Clinic)
- Bottom: Enterprise Valley Medical Clinic
- LGBTQ+ friendly: University of Utah Transgender Health Program
- Top: Planned Parenthood of the Great Northwest and the Hawaiian Islands (Marysville Health Center)
- Middle: Public Health Seattle and King County (STD Clinic at Harborview Medical Center)
- Bottom: Valley View Health Center (Toledo Medical and Behavioral Health Center)
- LGBTQ+ friendly: Sea Mar Community Health Centers
- Top: Teton County Public Health
- Middle: Community Health Center of Central Wyoming
- Bottom: Wyoming Department of Health (Cheyenne/Laramie County Health Department)
- LGBTQ+ friendly: Health Reach
What to expect from each possible result
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.
Yep, it’s possible to have more than one STI (this is known as coinfection).
“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 practicing safer sex!
If, however, you had sex without a barrier, experts recommend getting tested 2 weeks after the event, and again at 3 months after the potential exposure.
If you tested positive for one (or more) STIs
Generally speaking, your game plan will include:
- Get treated.
- Pause sexual activity until treatment is complete.
- Inform any recent and current sexual partners so they can get tested and treated.
- Resume having safer sex when you get the green light from your doctor.
- Get retested if your healthcare provider recommends it.
If you tested positive for gonorrhea, chlamydia, or trichomoniasis
Usually your healthcare provider will prescribe a single dose of an antibiotic. The infection should clear up within a week.
You may be asked to return a few weeks after diagnosis for a “test of cure” to ensure that the antibiotic fully cleared the infection.
If you tested positive for HIV
You’ll take a second test to confirm those results.
If your second test is HIV-positive, your healthcare provider will prescribe antiretroviral therapy (ART) to help manage the condition.
This combination of meds helps ensure that the infection doesn’t develop into AIDS. It also reduces the risk of transmitting the infection to current or future sexual partners.
If you have a partner who’s HIV-negative, they may choose to take pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) to help minimize the risk of contraction.
If you tested positive for HPV
There are more than 100 different kinds of HPV. Although there’s no current cure for HPV, many strains don’t cause complications.
Some cause genital warts, which can be removed.
Some are linked to an increased risk of cancer of the cervix, vagina, vulva, anus, or throat. Next steps may include:
- monitoring the area
- further testing
- removing any abnormal or precancerous cells
If you tested positive for HSV
A herpes test will come back positive if you’ve ever had herpes — this includes cold sores! — in your lifetime, even if you’ve never had or aren’t currently experiencing symptoms.
Herpes doesn’t have a current cure, but you can manage the condition. Meds like valacyclovir can help decrease the likelihood of a herpes outbreak and help prevent transmission to an HSV-negative partner.
If you tested positive for hepatitis B or C
When diagnosed early, an antiviral medication can clear hepatitis B and C.
But because both diseases can spread to the liver, a follow-up appointment with a gastroenterologist may be necessary.
If you tested positive for syphilis
When diagnosed early, an antibiotic can clear syphilis.
If you’re concerned about confidentiality
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.
The below may help ease some of those worries.
All info (including test results) shared with a healthcare provider is confidential
Any personal information that your doc asks is used to give you the best possible care and to contact you about your results.
But your name and other identifying info aren’t attached to this information.
You have options for how you tell your partner
If you test positive for an STI, telling any past or current partners is M-U-S-T so they can get treated and prevent potential spread.
If you suspect that disclosing a positive result to your partner(s) will compromise your safety — or you just don’t want to do it yourself! — your healthcare provider can notify them anonymously.
Minors are able to consent to STI testing in all 50 states
And no state requires that the provider notify guardians about this service.
However, 18 states — which you can find listed here — allow doctors to inform guardians that a minor sought STI services. Find out what the laws in your state are, and talk with your provider about how your information might be shared.
Where to find additional support
If you have questions like “Do I have [X]” or “What to do if [X],” the healthcare provider doing the testing is your best bet.
For more general information about STIs, check out:
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)
- Planned Parenthood
- Safer STD Testing
You can also check out this roundup of best STI blogs.
And for helpful resources about testing positive, check out:
- “Something Positive for Positive People” podcast
- @SexELDucation on Instagram
- STDcheck.com blog
Gabrielle Kassel is a New York–based sex and wellness writer and CrossFit Level 1 Trainer. She’s become a morning person, tested over 200 vibrators, and eaten, drunk, and brushed with charcoal — all in the name of journalism. In her free time, she can be found reading self-help books and romance novels, bench-pressing, or pole dancing. Follow her on Instagram.