I am a huge proponent of regular STI testing as part of any health regimen. Most STI’s are treatable and those that can’t be cured can be managed. Knowing your status allows you to take care of your health and provide important information for your sexual partners.
Most of my life I have done regular STI testing through a local free clinic. In Sacramento, there are several options of clinics which offer free STI testing. Most of these test for HIV, chlamydia, gonorrhea and syphilis in their standard screening. The procedure is, go in, sign in with any name you want, test. HIV results are now offered immediately (the clinics I go to offer the rapid response finger-stick test) and wait two weeks for the rest. If you don’t get a call, you are supposed to understand everything is fine.
This method has pluses and minuses. Its free- a big thing for lots of folks who don’t have extra cash to pay for tests. It can be anonymous (they don’t verify your identity when you sign in and I have heard them call “Minnie Mouse” back for testing). Its low time and effort.
The drawbacks are pretty big though. The panels generally only include four STIs, which isn’t close to the gamut which is out there. I also hate the “wait and pray for no call,” approach of most clinics. I have never been totally convinced that if I came back positive for any of the tests that I would definitely get a call. My experience with most healthcare offices is that the administrative staff can’t figure out how to use a phone, let alone leave a message.
There is always the option of going to your doctor and asking for regular testing. Most doctors will run the tests but this necessitates seeing a doctor. If you follow me on social media, you understand I think most doctors are toxic narcissists who couldn’t diagnose their way out of a paper bag. Plus, many insurance plans won’t cover regular STI testing and the costs can become prohibitive. One friend recently was charge $450 for an STI panel by his insurance company!!!
So, when STDCheck asked me to check out their service, I was pretty stoked. They offer a 10-panel STI check which is much more complete than most clinics and most doctor’s offices will offer. Second, it takes the doctor’s office out of the equation and you deal with folks in customer service, not healthcare, which tends to mean better response times and more complete answers to questions.
The process is really simple, which is something I like. You go to their site (www.STDCheck.com) choose the test package you want, choose the lab site where you want your blood drawn, pay and you are set! After you pay, they send you very clear instructions, a lab slip and you are set.
I deal with several chronic health conditions and routinely go to the lab for blood work. The instructions from STDCheck were clear, easy to understand and answered any question I might have. Honestly, they were much better at providing basic info than any doctor’s office I have ever worked with.
They sent the lab orders ahead to my lab (a Quest location in Napa, CA) and provided me with a copy of the lab slip. That was an additional plus in my book. My regular doctor routinely cannot send a complete lab slip to Quest and most trips for me involve Quest staff having to call my PCP and clarify simple information. This was not the case with STDCheck. The lab info they sent was complete and the copy of the orders for me was unnecessary but nice to have. Quest had everything they needed for my tests when I showed up.
I had the blood drawn. Within 24 hours the preliminary results had been emailed to me. As Quest ran the different tests I was notified over the next two days every time a new result popped up along with the Quest report on the results. This was a huge improvement over either going to a clinic or my regular doctor. The Quest report is received faster and has more detail than either a clinic or doctor’s office. I had a document with the actual results rather than a “I didn’t get a call for two weeks, so I guess I’m okay.” Additionally, I have had partners in the past who want to actually see my STI tests, so this version is GREAT for that type of information exchange.
The only issue I can see some folks having with the STDCheck report is the preliminary results list them as “in range” and “out of range” by the test name. It would be possible to see a result that looks like HSV 1 “out of range” result. This would leave someone unfamiliar with the testing terminology wondering “what the heck does that mean?” While the final report provides details, there is a day or so delay between the preliminary reports and the final report.
In the case of a positive test, STDCheck offers an option for a consultation with a doctor. If you test positive for gonorrhea, chlamydia, or trichomoniasis a doctor can call in a prescription to your local pharmacy. This makes it easy to get basic treatment- no fuss, no muss. In my case, any doctor can call in a script and my insurance will cover the medication with the assigned co-pays. Depending on your insurance and ability to pay, you should be able to get the drugs you need.
The one thing which concerns me is that they don’t test to see if the gonorrhea and chlamydia strains are the regular ones or the antibiotic resistant ones which are now out there. In most cases the standard treatment will work for folks. However, here in northern California, the drug-resistant strains are quickly spreading, which would necessitate additional treatment. In the case of a positive HIV and hepatitis result, STDCheck can help you find a doctor to continue your treatment.
STDCheck offers a way to notify your former partners anonymously that they might want to get tested in the event one of your tests comes back positive. I didn’t use that service so I can’t say how well it works. Anonymous notifications have pluses and minuses. I think its important to let former partners know they might be at risk for an STI. I prefer to notify former partners via text or phone call, but I also understand that there are people out there you may never want to speak to again… so this would be a reasonable option for letting someone know. Its better than nothing.
While this service won’t work for 100 percent of people, I found it to be a huge improvement over my current STI testing options. Anytime I can work around seeing my PCP I’m in. The last time I tried to get a regular STI test from my PCP at a university hospital center, they insisted on putting me through “counseling” before running the tests which basically consisted of a “well, if you insist on being a slut, we can run the test, but wouldn’t it be better if you were in a monogamous relationship and only had sex to procreate” speech (total BS). I also prefer going to my regular Quest than the local clinic.
Additionally, I really liked getting a print out of the results. While I don’t currently have partners who insist on seeing testing results, I have dated people in the past who want proof of testing and this is an easy to read report which I could give them.
I actually likes the service so much, I checked out their other site HealthLabs.com. They offer a range of tests for all sorts of health needs. STDCheck was easy to use, provided competent and complete support in the process and made it way less stressful than seeing my doctor. I will definitely be using their other services in the future.
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