Free STD testing may sound good in theory, but there are a few pitfalls in practice that you as a patient need to be aware of. There are options for free STD testing nearby and available to you, either from your local city or county clinic to locations that are run and funded by nonprofit organizations. Though their purpose may be a noble one, the actual experience can leave you the patient more at risk or trapped in an unnecessarily long and awkward process.
Since so many people are looking into the cheapest option, or even free STD testing if possible, you’ll likely not be the only one waiting to get tested. Free STD testing clinics have notoriously long wait times, which means you could be sitting in a waiting area wasting your day, instead of using your time in a way that’s more productive for you.
Let’s address one of the biggest issues with free STD testing: lack of privacy. When you stop by your local free STD testing clinic, the purpose of your visit is clear and obvious. Free STD testing locations commonly only offer one service: STD testing. That means when you stop by one of these clinics if you’re seen or recognized, all of the privacy you hold dear concerning your sexual health is taken away. Making the choice to get tested is a very personal one, and is one that many people would like to keep as private as possible for several reasons.
When you’re seen at a free clinic or other free testing location, you’ll often be seen by a medical professional or member of the staff who will run through a series of awkward or uncomfortable questions in an effort to collect data that is analyzed and used by state or local health departments. How many sexual partners have you had? What types of sex do you engage in? Do you engage in sex with members of the same sex, opposite sex, or both? Have you had a recent sexual encounter that you are concerned about? These are just a few of the questions you may be asked at a free STD test location, when all you want is privacy and an accurate result.
Free STD testing clinics don’t have the lab partnerships that other STD testing providers have. While the test itself may be free to you, there is no additional incentive to process your test results quickly so that you can ease your mind. Your test will be one in a large batch to be processed, remembering also that with as many people who seek out the free STD testing option, there will be that many more tests for them to process and send to the lab including yours.
The term “free STD testing” isn’t always what it seems. Though there are some nonprofits that fund their ability to provide free STD testing through the money they raise or grants they receive, some actually require a donation from you. Some may advertise they offer free testing, but that doesn’t cover all STDs and perhaps only specific STD tests are at no cost to you. Bottom line – be sure to do your research as to what “free” really means.
Clinics that offer free STD testing often times are not using the most up-to-date testing methods available to medical professionals. It used to be that for certain STD tests namely those bacterial infections such as chlamydia, gonorrhea, and trichomoniasis that you had to offer a swab sample. These swab tests can be oftentimes quite painful, and sadly many clinics are still using them out of cost necessity or just plain old habit. Modern testing methods have nearly eliminated the need for these painful swab tests. Do your own body a favor and find a location where you don’t have to worry about the unnecessary and potentially painful swab method.
Free STD testing doesn’t always include every STD that it would be possible for you to contract. The incentive to offer free STD tests for government health programs and nonprofits is to help reduce the number of infections from STDs that have potentially life threatening or serious health consequences. That’s why it’s much more common to find free STD testing clinics that only offer free HIV testing for example. As HIV is an infection that poses a great health risk to the general population, it’s considered to be cost effective to get more people tested by offering free STD tests. It’s far less common to see free STD testing for gonorrhea, chlamydia, trichomoniasis, or especially herpes.
Your health is important, and you should be accessing only the best tools in order to help you protect it. Some clinics that offer free tests are using cheaper, or more cost effective, and specifically older generation STD tests. As technologies improve, so do the accuracy rates of results. Using an older generation STD test means a higher percentage risk of your results being inaccurate. While free testing may be helpful cost-wise, an inaccurate result may cost you more than any free test was worth in the long run. We encourage everyone to invest wisely when it comes to your sexual health.
As STD testing professionals, we understand why patients seek out lower cost STD testing options. We encourage everyone that is sexually active to have all of the information available to them so that they are able to make the right choice for their sexual health and their STD testing needs. Weighing the pros and cons of free STD test options should be part of that consideration, and Priority STD Testing strives to be a trusted partner in your sexual health. For more information about specific STDs and the STD tests available to you, visit our STD symptoms or Tests and Pricing pages.