Learn about the types of STI tests, what to expect, and where and how to get tested.
Sexually transmitted infections (STIs or STDs) are very common. Unfortunately, many STIs don’t have symptoms. That means that many people who have an STI don’t know it. The only way to know is to get tested.
Getting tested ensures you receive prompt treatment if you test positive. This prevents serious health issues from developing. The sooner you know, the better off you’ll be.
The good news is most STIs are treatable, and many are curable.
What to expect
STI testing can be quick and easy. It involves visiting your doctor and/or a health clinic. Blood and urine samples and swabs may be taken depending on the STI. Others involve a visual examination for symptoms. There is no one test that covers all STIs.
Confidential and anonymous testing options are available in many clinics. Here are the tests for the most common STIs:
- Chlamydia: Swab of genital area or urine sample
- Gonorrhea: Swab of genital area or urine sample
- HIV: Blood test or finger prick
- Genital herpes (no symptoms): Blood test (ask for a type-specific IgG test, not an IgM test)
- Genital herpes (with symptoms): Swab of the affected area and blood test
- Syphilis: Blood test, or sample taken from a sore
- Trichomoniasis (Trich): Swab of the infected area, a visual exam or a sample of discharge
- HPV (genital warts): Visual exam
- HPV (cervical cancer): A sample is taken from the cervix as with a Pap test.
A health professional can advise you about what test you should get. Learn more on what to expect when getting tested.
What are reportable STIs?
Most STI testing is carried out confidentially, which means your results are not shared with anyone, and most testing is completely anonymous if you go to a clinic.
In B.C., syphilis, gonorrhea, chlamydia and HIV are reportable STIs. This means that positive results are reported to public health to help prevent the spread of STIs. This information is stored securely and kept confidential. Learn more about confidentiality.
If you test positive for a reportable STI, anyone you have had sexual contact with or shared drug equipment with needs to be told that they may have been exposed to an STI. They can be told by you, a health care provider, or anonymously.
HIV anonymous testing
HIV is a reportable infection in B.C. This means that positive HIV test results are reported to public health so that support can be provided to people who test positive.
You can request to be tested anonymously for HIV. This means that your name and contact information are not collected at the test, so your name is never associated with the test.
Learn more about anonymous HIV testing and which clinics offer it.
Rapid HIV testing
HIV rapid testing clinics provide quick, discreet HIV tests, with the option to remain anonymous. You can drop in without an appointment, and you can get the results within minutes. Rapid tests are also known as Point of Care (POC) tests.
You receive a unique numbered code to use to pick up your results. Your name and contact details are not associated with the test and results in any way.
Learn more about rapid HIV testing.
How much does testing cost?
STI testing is free in many local public health units in B.C. If you have a B.C. care card, you can go to any doctor or clinic for free testing coverage. Find a clinic.
How do I get my results?
You can expect to get your results in up to 10 days. The length of time depends on your location in B.C. and the type of tests. Some clinics will give results by phone and others will require you to come back for results. Many offices and clinics will only call you if the tests show that you have an STI.
Learn more about getting your results.