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What’s it like to have a sexually transmitted disease (STD) test? Can you take an STD test at home, like a home pregnancy test?

There is no one test for all STDs. Generally, an STD test involves a blood sample, a urine sample or a culture, by a health care provider.

When you see your doctor or health care provider, find out exactly what you are being tested for, so you know whether there are any tests missing. For example, a person is never automatically tested for HIV, the virus that causes AIDS. If your doctor or health care provider doesn’t mention it, you need to request this test specifically and give permission to have it done.

There are home test kits for HIV and Hepatitis C available at some drugstores and online. You have to prick your finger and send the blood sample to a lab to be tested. You call the lab a few days later for results. They also provide anonymous counseling over the phone. One brand name is Home Access and currently costs around $45. However, we highly recommend going to a clinic for HIV testing. Just in case you test positive, it is much better to have some immediate support, like someone knowledgeable and caring who can talk to you about it. Also, a clinic can test you for all other STDs as well and provide things like free condoms.

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