Students getting screened for Sexually Transmitted Infections (STIs) are as common as unsolicited opinions on the Internet. Probably because it’s easy, confidential and (most importantly) free. Getting routinely checked is normal and necessary for a healthy sex life. But we get that not everyone gets tested regularly. Whether you’re a first-timer or just curious to know more, we’ve put together a guide of FAQs to shed light on the process. So if you’ve got any burning symptoms or burning questions, read ahead.
How do I know when to book an appointment?
You can see a GP regarding anything sexual health related: an STI check, STI prevention or answers to questions. Remember, you only need to reveal personal details about sexual history and activity once you’re in the room with the GP, so just make an appointment as normal!
If you think you might have been exposed or haven’t been tested in the last 12 months (6 months for men having sex with other men), come on in. You can also score yourself some free condoms and discuss other methods of contraception, including the morning after pill. Of course, if you simply want to talk about safe sex, sexuality, or sex ed; our nurses are happy to chat about that too.
What does an appointment look like?
We offer two types of appointments. If you don’t have any symptoms, you can book an appointment with the nurse on campus. At Hawthorn, there’s a nurse-led sexual health clinic every week. The nurse will ask questions, determine the tests you need and guide you through them. A doctor, also known as a general practitioner (GP) might pop in occasionally to authorise tests as required too.
If you do have current symptoms, you’ll need a GP appointment. It’ll run very much the same, but they’ll also discuss your symptoms and be able to give you relevant medical advice.
How long does an appointment go for?
The whole process usually takes about 30 minutes tops. It’s a quickie (ha).
What type of questions will I be asked?
Your practitioner might ask about your vaccinations, recent surgeries and tattoos. And of course, your sexual activity: current and past. They won’t need all the juicy details, just the basic need-to-know ones. Questions like how many sexual partners you’ve had recently and whether you used contraception. Keep in mind you’re in a safe space. A judgement-free zone. So, be honest, your answers will help the practitioner determine your risk of STI and what tests you need.
How are STIs tested?
There are a few different ways to test for STIs, all of them fairly quick and easy. Most checks just involve a simple urine sample, while some might require a swab. Don’t worry, these will be explained before you head to the bathroom for some privacy. Occasionally there might be a blood test, and even more occasionally, an examination (usually, a cervical cancer-screening or ‘pap smear’, if it’s due). Whichever tests are required, your practitioner will be there to guide you through the process.
Will I feel uncomfortable?
While not everyone is super comfortable sharing information about their sex life at first, the upside is: the more you get checked, the more normal it becomes. Either way, it’s important to be honest when answering any questions. Try to remember that even though the nurse might seem like a stranger to you, they’re no stranger to STI checks. This is what they do every day and they’re here to help.
When will I get my results?
Usually, within a week. Generally, you’ll be asked to come in so the nurse can talk through the results and you can ask any questions.
Will my results be shared with anyone else?
No. Like any other medical appointment, your results and anything else you discuss with the nurse or GP is protected by patient confidentiality. It can’t be shared with anyone else, like a teacher or nosy family member, without your explicit consent.
Will a negative result affect my visa?
Your results will stay between you and your practitioner. Positive or negative, your results won’t change your student visa.
How much will the appointment cost me?
Usually, zero. It’s a free service for all students and you can make as many appointments as you need.
Local students: we bulk bill our services, meaning our practitioners only charge what Medicare cover and there’s no extra payment required from you.
International students: appointments are covered by the mandatory health insurance required by your visa. Some Overseas Student Health Cover (OSHC) policies might require you to pay upfront and collect reimbursement from your insurance company later. Please remember to check before you go.