I am fifteen years old. Is it possible to get a free STI (sexually transmitted infection) test at a women’s health clinic?

Thank you for your question. According to the Center for Disease Control (CDC), every year there are about 20 million newly diagnosed people with sexually transmitted infections (STIs) living in the United States. About 10 million of those people are between the ages of 15 to 24 years old. STIs can affect anyone regardless of race, gender, age, or sexual preference. The risk is high for teens who have multiple sexual partners or their partner has multiple sexual partners, so it’s important to protect yourself and your partner. The use of hormonal contraceptives (such as birth control pills, the ring, Depo-Provera, the patch, and implants) doesn’t protect you against STIs, only pregnancy. The only way to be protected against getting an STI is to use a male or female condom every single time you have sex.

We think it’s great that you are looking into getting tested. The CDC recommend that teens and young women (under the age of 25 years) who are sexually active get  STI testing for chlamydia and gonorrhea every year. In the United States, most primary care providers (PCP) can keep STI testing and treatment confidential (meaning they won’t tell your parents, unless you ask them to). However, you need to ask your PCP if there will be a bill that goes home or a notice sent by your health insurance company to your parents. If you are due for a physical exam checkup, then you can ask for a STI test at that time. A lot of teens are surprised that their parents can help them get an appointment and talk about sexual health.  If you don’t feel comfortable talking to your PCP, you can visit a local Planned Parenthood health clinic, community health center or STI clinic for testing. The health clinic can help determine what the cost of your STI testing will be (if is not free). It’s important to remember: if you think you may have an STI, get tested.

Other helpful resources: