What a better way to start off the year than to commit to regular STD Testing and Screening!

Recently, I recorded a podcast episode (www.lovesexatx.com) on sexually transmitted diseases and infections.  When the topic was posed by my team, I initially thought “Who is going to want to listen to an hour long podcast about STDs?”  I mean, I could talk about sexual health and STDs all day long (and many days, I talk about them a lot!) but who wants to tune in and listen to us talk about the risks and dangers of sex?

That’s when my producer stopped me and said something along the lines of “I’m not proud of it, but there were many times I abandoned any concern about my sexual safety for pleasure.  If we can just help 10 people practice safer sex, than it would be a success.”

I was speechless: he was SO right.  I guess working in the field of sex sometimes disconnects me to the average persons experience of sex, and safer sex is one of my most FAVORITE topics to talk about, so I probably take for granted how much I talk about it, and maybe how little people talk about it in their regular lives.

Since the podcast is based in Austin, TX, I wanted to make sure that listeners were provided with helpful resources of where they can get STD testing.  Some of these resources can be generalized to all of the areas I work (and beyond), but many are local and aim to provide services to people in the Austin, TX area.

The FIRST thing I will say about getting STD tested is knowing what you are getting tested for.  People will often say “I’ve been tested. I’m clean” (imposing the inherent shame that we feel about our sexual health, as if having a sexually transmitted disease means you are DIRTY).  Fun fact: More than half of all people will have STD/STI at some point in their life (American Sexual Health Association, 2016).  That means having an STD/STI is really common, so common that it seems unnecessary how much secrecy and shame we have out there about having had or currently having a sexually transmitted disease or sexually transmitted infection.  But that’s sex in this country right- riddled with secrecy and shame, often disguised as “privacy” and “modesty”, but let’s be honest- sex in many families is seen as something you don’t talk about and you don’t feel good about- hence the secrecy and shame part.

So back to WHAT you are getting tesedt for- when someone say “I’ve been tested”, they are usually referring to ONLY four diseases they have been screened for:

  1. HIV (shows up as HIV AB/AG Combo or HIV 1 + 2 AB + AG or some variation): Desired result Non-reactive or Negative
  2. Syphilis (shows up as RPR on your lab tests): Desired result: non-reactive or negative
  3. Gonorrhea and Chlamydia, Desired Result: negative

What that doesn’t include is HPV (genital warts and can cause cervical cancer and oral cancer), Herpes, Hepatitis B & C, Trichomoniasis, or any other skin diseases that can be transmitted through blood, semen, saliva, vaginal fluids, or skin to skin contact.

The other thing, is you actually have to ASK to be tested.  And you need to be specific on what you want to have tested.  According to the American Sexual Health Association (2016), in a national survey of US physicians, fewer than one-third routinely screened patients for STDs/STIs.  That means that this is something YOU need to make a priority.  I know, it isn’t right, for something that carries so much weight, shame, and heartache, why don’t our physicians take a more proactive approach in helping us navigate sexually transmitted infections and diseases?  THAT is a great question, and a WHOLE other topic for another blog!

So know that you know what I recommend you getting tested for, here are some places in Austin, TX that will do it for a low-cost or free.

  1.  First, if you have health insurance, MOST, if not all, of the above mentioned tests will be covered.  But you have to ask and you HAVE to be insistent.  In all the years I’ve been a sex therapist and have been getting regularly screened 1-2 times per year, I STILL have to insist to “regular” doctors why I need the tests I need.  Even if some years I am “low risk”, I have to explain to the doctor that my sexual health is a priority and the sexual health of my partner is also a priority.  Because of that, I need to have tests for the following:
    1. HIV
    2. Syphilis
    3. Gonorrhea
    4. Chlamydia
    5. Trichomoniasis
    6. Herpes I and II
    7. Hepatitis B and C
    8. HPV
    9. If symptomatic, yeast culture as well – CHERRY ON TOP!
      Most of these are blood tests (HIV can be a finger prick, which I don’t like).  A couple are a culture from my vagina or in men, their urethra.  I usually get fought by the practitioner (insane, I know) on 1 or 2, generally hepatitis and HPV.  HPV is a REALLY dangerous and common virus, and it isn’t always uniform on testing for it.  Women usually have it done through a pap test- for men, there isn’t an “approved” way of testing/screening unless there is a wart or lesion present.  An anal Pap test is available for those who frequently have anal sex.
  2. Go to a low-cost or free clinic. Generally, my experience has been that these places are WAY more receptive at testing you for whatever you want and many accept your insurance and if you have crummy insurance or none at all, they are often very reasonably priced or FREE!  It’s often easy to get free HIV testing, whereas other tests usually aren’t free.  World Aids Day in December 1 every year is often a pretty easy day to get a free HIV test too, so you could make it an annual thing.  If you go to college or university, you can also take advantages of some of their free and low-cost STD/STI screening programs because each year, one in four teens contracts an STD/STI, one in two sexually active persons will contract an STD/STI by age 25 and about half of all new STDs/STIs in 2000 occurred among youth ages 15 to 24 (ASHA,2016).Here is where I would go (taken from the Austintx.gov website):

Austin/Travis County Health and Human Services Department

HIV Prevention & Outreach Program

15 Waller Street (and various other locations)
Austin, TX 78702
FREE HIV testing
See the Mobile Outreach Van testing schedule.

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RBJ Sexually Transmitted Disease (STD) Clinic

Austin/Travis County Health and Human Services Department
15 Waller Street
Austin, TX 78702
Low-cost STD/HIV Testing

Other Testing Locations

AIDS Services of Austin

7215 Cameron Rd # A
Austin, TX 78752
Call for dates & times

MHMR CARE Program (Community AIDS Resources & Education)

5015 S. IH35, Suite 200-D
Austin, TX 78744
FREE, confidential HIV and Hepatitis C testing
Monday and Wednesday mornings, 8:30 a.m. – 12:00 p.m.
First-come, First-served basis
Rapid test results

Planned Parenthood Downtown Clinic

1823 E 7th Street
Austin, TX 78702
Rapid testing is available.
$0 – $60

Planned Parenthood North Austin Clinic

9041 Research #250
Rapid testing is available.
$0 – $60

Kind Clinic

1101 W 40th St. #102
Austin, TX 78756

Any Lab Test Now

Offer a variety of tests at several Austin area locations


Call 1.800.809.9252 for testing locations and cost.


Fast, private, and affordable STD testing at 10 locations in and around Austin

STD Labs

A professional STD testing service offering fast, private, and affordable STD testing.

And if you are in the Austin area, or Texas, or Maine, Massachusetts, New York or New Hampshire and are looking for some help in dealing with sexually transmitted infections, please fill out the information below and I will be happy to contact you to set up an appointment.

Sex isn’t scary, it just needs to be enjoyed responsibly!