Getting tested for sexually transmitted infections is the best way to be sure you don't have one.  Even though you may be asymptomatic (have no symptoms), it is still possible that you can have an STD if you were exposed. Sometimes an STD may be present in the bodyfor a considerable period of time without symptoms. So the best way to know for sure is to get tested.

Health care providers do not 'automatically' screen people for STDs during physical examinations. If you think there is a chance that you may have been exposed, ask your health care provider to discuss testing with you. You would want to consider your risk factors, the test options, cost and your health insurance coverage before agreeing to testing. If you are without symptoms and just want to be screened, STD test costs may not be covered by your insurance policy.

What if you have symptoms?

If you notice symptoms such as itching, unusual sores or bumps, pain or burning upon urination, call your health care provider. The clinician can discuss the symptoms with you and help you assess your risk of an STD and what tests might be appropriate. Of course another way of determining exposure, would be to talk to your sexual partner(s) about their health history and whether there was any chance of transmission.

What if you don't have symptoms

Some people like to be screened for certain STDs annually, or each time they have a new sexual partner. Others may learn from a partner that they may have been exposed. In these cases, a health care provider can help suggest the most appropriate tests and can give you an idea of the cost of asymptommatic screening.

What if you don't have symptoms & your partner does?

It may still be possible that you have been infected and it would be a good idea to get tested. In the meantime, be sure to use preventative measures during sexual activity such as condoms (male or female).

Why can't you get tested for everything at once?

STDs are caused by lots of different microorganisms.  Some infections, like chlamydia, are caused by bacteria, while others are caused by viruses, or even parasites.  Because each infection has it's own "cause" there is no one test for every infection. You and your clinician can come up with a plan for what your risks are and what tests maybe worthwhile.

Can you get tested without anyone finding out?

There are federal and state laws that mandate confidentiality of patient medical records and information. Health care providers are required to keep an individual's visits confidential and will not share information with others without your permission.

When it comes to HIV in particular, there aretwo different testing options:confidential and anonymous testing.  Confidential testing means that the tests are connected with your name and medical file, but that information can not be released to anyone (including parents, academic institutions, employers, etc.)  without a signed written release from you. Anonymous HIV testing means that the test is in no way connected with your medical record or name. You can get tested using a random number or you can call yourself Madonna or Beyonce. Your identity remains anonymous. At Tompkins County's anonymous test sites (see below) you can get your HIV results in about 20 minutes.

How do they test for STDs?

There are several different methods used for testing. Depending on what you will be tested for, you may have blood drawn by a nurse or other medical provider (by syringe in the arm) or asked for a urine sample (urinating a small amount into a cup). HIV testing is done either by blood draw or, using an oral swab to collect mucosa from the mouth. Both options are available in Tompkins County (the rapid HIV test with results in 20 minutes uses the oral swab method).

What happens if you test "positive?"

Many sexually active people find themselves diagnosed with an STD. In this day and age, exposure is not uncommon, And the good news is that there are many treatments available to manage, or even cure, sexually transmitted infections, depending on the organism and stage of infection. All of this information can be discussed with your health care provider.

Where can I find anonymous HIV testing?

Free anonymous rapid HIV testing sites are available via walk-in
or appointment in Tompkins County:

Call (607) 274-6683 for site specific dates and times.

Or call

Tompkins County Health Department
55 Brown Rd.
Ithaca, NY 14850

STAP (Southern Tier AIDS Program)
501 South Meadow Street
Ithaca, NY 14850

Tompkins County Prevention Point
(Syringe Exchange Harm Reduction Program)
501 South Meadow Street, Suite B
Ithaca, NY 14850

The following local agencies provide a range of diverse education, prevention, testing, and treatment services:

Gannett Health Services
(For Cornell students)

Hammond Health Center
(For Ithaca College students)

Planned Parenthood of the Southern Finger Lakes

(For County residents)

Southern Tier AIDS Project (STAP)

(Info for residents of Southern Tier NY)

Tompkins Cortland Community College 
(For TC3 students)

Tompkins County Health Department
(For County residents)

Additional NY State testing locations
(in New York State)

 

Additional free anonymous rapid HIV testing sites available for everyone via walk-in or appointment at:

Tompkins County Health Department
55 Brown Rd.
Ithaca, NY 14850

STAP (Southern Tier AIDS Program)
501 South Meadow Street
Ithaca, NY 14850

Tompkins County Prevention Point
(Syringe Exchange Harm Reduction Program)
501 South Meadow Street, Suite B
Ithaca, NY 14850

Call (607) 274-6683 for site specific dates and times.