Find out what STI and HIV tests are available as well as when, how and where to get tested.
STI testing is available to everyone. Regular testing is one of the best ways to prevent passing on STIs and health issues that are caused by STIs.
What is STI testing?
Many STIs are asymptomatic, meaning there are not always obvious symptoms that would prompt a person to go for testing. If you are sexually active, testing is the only way to confirm if an STI is present. If left untreated, some STIs can lead to serious health issues.
Testing for STIs involves visiting your doctor, primary care provider or sexual health clinic. Testing requires submitting blood and urine samples and swabs may also be required depending on the STI. A visual examination for symptoms may also be required.
For information on symptoms and types of STI tests: Symptoms & Testing | SmartSex Resource.
When to get tested
You can get tested whenever you want or need to. Testing ensures you will receive the right treatment as quickly as possible to prevent further health issues.
Consider getting tested when:
- You have symptoms (remember, not all STIs have symptoms).
- You had sex with someone with an STI or who has symptoms.
- You have a new sexual partner.
- You or your partner(s) have not been tested in the last three to six months.
- You had sex without a condom or a condom broke during sex.
Regular testing is recommended as a way to prevent acquiring or passing on STIs. Talk to a health care provider if you’re not sure if you should get tested.
The importance of "window periods"
An important part of knowing when to get tested for a particular STI is the "window period” for any given STI. This is the time between getting the infection and when a positive result will show up on a test.
Testing too soon after sexual activity may not allow enough time between when the infection was acquired and when it will show up on a test. It is important to let your health care provider know when the date of last sexual contact occurred before testing.
The window period can range from a few days and up to three months, depending on the STI and the type of test.
For information on window periods and STIs: Symptoms & Testing | SmartSex Resource
How do I get tested?
Sexual health clinics provide free testing and diagnosis for STIs and HIV. They can also provide treatment for most STIs. Find a clinic near you.
You can also ask your health care provider (family doctor or nurse practitioner) for free STI and HIV testing. Free treatment for most STIs is available most sexual health clinics.
HIV self-testing kits are now available in B.C.
Visit the I’m Ready website to learn about HIV self-testing and how to access the kits. You may be eligible to obtain a kit for free through the I’m Ready HIV Program.
Worried about confidentiality?
Getting tested for STIs in British Columbia is confidential, easy, and usually free.
Read more about testing and confidentiality.