Introducing Our Sex Ed Column: Where and How to Get Tested

Hi Her Campus Readers,

My name is Josey Allen and I am the Social Media Manager and a writer for The New School’s branch of Her Campus. This year I am excited to introduce my new Sex Education column! Through this column, I will be answering questions that can be submitted to me through The New School Her Campus Instagram (@hctns) and writing about various topics that have to do with sexual health and sex in general. I will also be conducting interviews with sexual health professionals, therapists, sex workers!

For this first column, I am writing about Sexually Transmitted Infection (STI) testing in the city and what to expect if it is your first time being tested. This feels like a relevant time to write about this because it’s the end of summer, the beginning of a new semester and it’s important to have peace of mind! Sex is fun, but it can quickly become stressful and take a toll on your mental health if you are constantly worried about your health status, so my goal is to make it easier for people to find affordable and easy STI testing. Also, there are many first-year students who just moved to the city, and this column entry is to inform the readers of places they can go specifically in New York City and what to know before you go.

Many people are unsure of how often they should get tested. According to Planned Parenthood, sexually active people should be tested at least once a year, but also before they have sex with a new partner. If you have unprotected sex, you should get tested ten days after engaging in sexual activity. Any earlier, and STIs may not show up on the test. So even though waiting almost two weeks to get a test when you’re nervous that you have been exposed can be nerve-wracking, it is important to do so. Be sure to tell your doctor if you are having symptoms because a standard STI test does not test for Herpes; only Chlamydia, Gonorrhea, Syphilis, and HIV.

Personally, I get tested every six months or after sex with a new partner. When setting up your appointments, think about your sex life and schedule according to how often you have unprotected sex or find new partners to ensure you find out your status in a timely manner.

So, what do you do if a test comes back positive? Though it may feel like a huge deal, it doesn’t have to be. Many STIs like Chlamydia and Gonorrhea are curable with antibiotics. Even STDs like HIV are manageable with today’s medications. Even so, it is crucial to tell any past partners that could have been exposed if you test positive so that they can get treatment as soon as possible.

There are many places in the city that offer STI testing, including The New School Health Services! Health Services is located at 80 5th Ave on the 3rd floor. You can make an appointment and get free, confidential testing right at school, though depending on the insurance you use, co-payments could be added on. With insurance you can go to a CityMD or CVS Minute Clinic for testing, coming out to around $30 dollars with insurance. Another great option is Planned Parenthood, though it can be tough to get an appointment quickly, many times you have to plan in advance. New School students can get free HIV testing at the Lower East Side Harm Reduction Center; a typical test includes a urine sample and blood sample. It doesn’t take up more than 45 minutes and your status remains confidential. Usually, a test will take a bit over a week to process. The New School clinic sends you a confidential message to your account on the student health site or calls you. Clinics like CityMD will call you to let you know your status.

If anything, regular STI testing gives you and your partner’s peace of mind and it doesn’t have to be expensive or stressful! It’s easy and confidential in the city and it’s extremely important to know your status. So, if you have been exposed to anything you can take care of it before it causes any long-term problems.

If you have any questions about STI screening or ideas you’d like to see me write about next, direct message me on Instagram and I will answer! I will also be sure to maintain everyone’s anonymity.