Who should get tested?
Anyone who is sexually active should get tested annually for common STIs and HIV.
Why should I get tested?
- 10 million young people ages 15 to 24 are diagnosed with a sexually transmitted infection each year.
- Most STIs have no signs or symptoms or mild signs that can easily be overlooked, so the only way to know is to get tested.
- People with uteruses can have long-term effects of these diseases, including pelvic inflammatory disease, chronic pelvic pain, tubal scarring, ectopic pregnancy and infertility.
How would I know if I had an STI?
Most STIs have no symptoms, so getting tested regularly is the best way to know. If you experience STI symptoms, they may include:
- Unexplained abdominal/pelvic or testicular pain
- Genital discharge
- Burning urination
- Genital rash, itching or sores
What are the common STI tests offered at the University Health Center?
- Chlamydia: This STI is common in the U.S. with nearly 3 million cases reported each year. Most females with chlamydia (and about half of males) do not experience symptoms. Since symptoms may not be present, the only way to know if a person who may be at risk is infected with chlamydia is to be tested. Type of test: Swab of genital area or urine sample. This test is always offered in conjunction with gonorrhea and cannot be separated. View chlamydia FAQs.
- Genital Herpes: It is estimated that one in five persons in the U.S. has genital herpes; however, as many as 90 percent are unaware that they have the virus. Type of test: Blood test or swab of affected area. View herpes FAQs.
- Gonorrhea: This STI is a curable infection. It is transmitted during vaginal, anal and oral sex (performing or receiving). Many males infected with gonorrhea have symptoms, while most females do not. Even when people with uteruses do have symptoms, they can be mistaken for a bladder infection or other vaginal infection. Type of test: Swab of genital area or urine sample. This test is always offered in conjunction with chlamydia and cannot be separated. View gonorrhea FAQs.
- Hepatitis A, B and C: Hepatitis is an inflammation of the liver that can be caused by a group of viruses. Type of test: Blood test. View hepatitis FAQs.
- HIV: HIV stands for Human Immunodeficiency Virus. It is the virus that causes AIDS. Over time, infection with HIV can weaken the immune system to the point that the system has difficulty fighting off certain infections. Type of test: Blood test. View HIV FAQs.
- Oral Herpes: More than 50 percent of the adult population in the U.S. has oral herpes. Herpes can also be transmitted when there are no symptoms present. Type of test: Visual diagnosis. View herpes FAQs.
- Syphilis: This STI is a curable, bacterial infection. The bacteria enter the body through mucous membranes or torn or cut skin. Once inside the body, syphilis enters the blood stream and attaches to cells, damaging organs over time. Type of test: Blood test or sample from sore. View syphilis FAQs.
Which STIs should I get tested for?
STIs are not like allergies; you can’t do a massive test for all STIs. These tests are specific to each infection. Talk to your doctor about which STI tests you need. Certain STIs are more common than others, so your provider may suggest you get tested regularly for them.
Remember to be honest and open with your provider about your sexual history. They are there to help, not judge you. What you share will help your doctor choose the most appropriate tests for your circumstances so that your testing will not cost more than necessary. Your individual risk factors will determine exactly which tests are most important for you.
How do I get tested for STIs and/or HIV at the health center?
Step 1: Call the health center at 402-472-5000 and follow the options to speak to a nurse. Tell the nurse that you’d like to get tested. The nurse line is usually available Monday through Friday from 8:20 a.m. to 4:40 p.m.
Step 2: Nursing will ask you a few questions and put in an order for your testing at our laboratory.
Step 3: Walk in at your convenience and check in at the health center front desk Monday through Friday between 8:20 a.m. to 4:40 p.m. Tell the registration staff that you’re checking in “for lab only.” Our staff will get you checked in and direct you to the lab, where you will complete your testing.
Step 4: Nursing staff will call you in a few business days with results and schedule follow-up as needed. Results will also be available in your One Chart | Patient portal in about two to three business days.
Who will know I got tested?
All lab services and clinic medical records are strictly confidential. This information is kept between you and your doctor.
Minors (students 18 and younger) do not need parental consent for STI testing or treatment. STI testing and treatment information will not be shared with parents of minors without the minor’s permission.
If you have charges for an STI test, they will be transferred to your Student Account within 30 days of the visit. These charges do not give details of your visit and will only appear as “Health Center Visit Charges.” No one will know from your charges that you received STI testing at the health center.
If you use health insurance to get tested, you should consider who else has access to that information (like a parent or partner if you share health insurance). If you do not want to submit your charge to insurance, please tell the front desk staff member at check-in.
Positive results for some STIs, like HIV or syphilis, may be shared with state or city health departments for tracking purposes, but there are laws preventing health departments from sharing your test results with your family, friends or employer.
Be sure to ask your health care provider who will know that you got tested and your results, especially if you are using insurance. Ask questions and stay informed.
If I get tested for STIs at the health center, will it go on my academic record?
No, this information is kept strictly confidential and is not shared with the university in any way. Your information will go on your medical record in One Chart | Patient, but only you have access to this information and you choose who you share it with.
What is the cost?
Doctor-ordered chlamydia, gonorrhea and HIV tests are covered by student fees. University students who are 24 or younger who do not have or cannot use insurance may qualify for a grant that covers some or all of the cost of most other STI testing at the health center. If you are interested in utilizing grant funds, speak to a medical receptionist or provider during your appointment for more details
Any charges you incur can be billed to your insurance. Nebraska Medicine participates with many insurance companies. Please bring your insurance card with you to your appointment.
Remember, if you use insurance, the primary insurance holder will receive information about what STI tests you received. If you pay for your STI tests by cash, check, Visa or Mastercard, you — and only you — will know what STI tests you received. If you do not want to submit your charge to insurance, please tell the front desk staff member at check-in.
What happens if I test positive for an STI?
First, remember to breathe. The side effects and health outcomes of many STIs can be treated, and many STIs are curable. Different treatment methods are used for different STIs. For some STIs, there are several treatment options. Here are two examples:
- Tested positive for chlamydia: You will be given a prescription for an antibiotic that will cure this case of chlamydia. It is important that you follow the treatment recommended by your health care provider completely. Always continue your medication until it is finished, even if your symptoms have gone away. You could still get chlamydia again if you have sex with someone who has chlamydia. So it’s important that your partner(s) also get tested and treated for chlamydia before resuming sexual activity.
- Tested positive for herpes: You can take medications to treat the symptoms. Although herpes is not a curable STI, it is easily treatable with medication. Medications are also available to help prevent future outbreaks and minimize their severity, as well as lower the chances of passing the virus on to partners. About one in six adults have herpes in the U.S., and they live normal, healthy lives. You’re not alone! You can also join support groups for people with herpes to help you cope and prevent transmission to others.
How do I tell my partner(s) I have an STI?
Some conversations seem really hard to have. Telling someone you have an STI may be one of them. But it’s not just about you; your partner needs to know so he or she can get tested and treated if necessary.
Everyone gets an STI from a person. Part of stopping the spread of STIs is open communication, so talk to your partner. This is never an easy conversation, but it’s an important one to have. Many couples report this conversation actually brings them closer together.
Make a plan. As soon as you’re ready, bring it up with your partner. You could talk to someone else about it first and practice what you’re going to say. You could also journal about it or practice talking in a mirror. You could even write your partner a letter. The main point is just to communicate. Be there for your partner the way you hope they would be there for you.
Testing positive and talking to your partner(s) about having an STI may feel overwhelming. Remember that CAPS is a resource for you if you need it. Visit their website for more information.