HIV/STI Testing FAQ
Frequently Asked Questions
How do I sign in for HIV/STI Testing?
HIV/STI testing is offered in a walk-in format. You will walk up to the front desk in the Student Wellness Center or the Multicultural Center and let the front desk associate know that you are there for testing. You will sign in and be offered a number. You will be told to sit in the waiting area until your number is called. Please read the information on the number. The wait time depends on how many clients are ahead of you. You may be asked to complete some paperwork before being called back for testing.
Am I at risk? Should I get tested?
If you have unprotected sex or share injection drug equipment, you should be tested for HIV at least once per year. The CDC recommends that all individuals 13 to 64 years old get tested for HIV at least once in their lifetime as part of routine healthcare. More specific information about HIV risk factors can be found on the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) website.
When should I be tested after possible exposure to HIV or STIs?
HIV: Test three to six months after possible exposure
Chlamydia/Gonorrhea: Test two weeks after possible exposure
Syphilis: Test one month after possible exposure
When do I get my test results?
If you are tested for HIV, you will receive your result the same day you are tested.
If you are tested for chlamydia, gonorrhea, or syphilis, you will receive your results from Columbus Public Health by phone 5 to 7 business days after you are tested. You are only contacted if any of your test results are positive. Please direct any questions about your test results to the Columbus Public Health laboratory at 614-645-6732.
If I am tested for all tests that are offered, how long will the session last?
The average session lasts between 30 to 45 minutes. This time includes completion of paperwork, administering the tests and individualized risk-reduction counseling. Depending on the number of clients ahead of you, you may experience a wait time.
Can I still provide a urine sample for the STI test while on my period?
Yes. Menstrual blood will not interfere with the STI test.
Can I still provide a urine sample for the STI test if I have a yeast infection?
Yes. A yeast infection will not interfere with the STI test.
Can I still provide a urine sample for the STI test if I am taking antibiotics?
If you are taking antibiotics for a condition other than an STI, yes, you can provide a urine sample and be tested.
If you are taking antibiotics for an STI, you should wait two to three weeks until the course of treatment has concluded to be tested.
Generally, it is a good idea to retest following the use of antibiotics to treat an STI. This ensures that the infection has cleared and you can resume sexual activity, without the risk of re-infecting your partner(s).
Remember, it is very important that you take your treatment for its full length of duration (even if symptoms go away or you start to feel better sooner). If you do not, you run the risk of developing a drug-resistant form of the STI, which will be much harder to treat.
How is the HIV test administered?
The Student Wellness Center uses a test called the OraQuick ADVANCE test, which is an oral swab. To administer the test, you will swab your gums with the testing device once across the top and bottom. You will then give the testing device to your test counselor. It is important that you do not eat, drink, chew gum or tobacco products for 15 minutes prior to taking the test. For more information regarding the HIV testing device, please visit the OraSure Technologies, Inc. website.
How accurate is the test for HIV?
The test is approximately 99.8% accurate when administered six months after potential exposure.
What is the "Window Period" for HIV?
The OraQuick ADVANCE test used by the Student Wellness Center tests for the antibodies against HIV; it does not test for the virus itself. The "window period" refers to the amount of time it takes for the average person to produce enough antibodies to be detected by the test. This time period varies depending on the type of test.
The OraQuick ADVANCE test has a window period of three to six months, meaning it can take up to three to six months after your last sexual encounter to produce enough antibodies to be detected. Re-testing may be necessary if you have been potentially exposed to HIV within three to six months prior to being tested.
How long does the HIV antibody test take?
Administering the oral swab takes approximately 15 seconds. Your result is ready after 20 to 40 minutes.
If the test is positive, does that mean I have HIV?
If the OraQuick ADVANCE test is reactive, it is considered preliminary positive. This means that antibodies against HIV may be present, but you will need to have further testing before knowing your HIV status. You will be offered additional resources during your session to complete secondary verification testing.
If the test is negative, does that mean I don't have HIV?
It can take your body three to six months after your last possible exposure to the virus (e.g., last incidence of unprotected sex, sharing of needles) to develop enough antibodies to be detected by the OraQuick ADVANCE test. Because of this "window period," re-testing may be necessary for people who have been potentially exposed within the window period.
How can I prepare for the blood draw for the syphilis test?
It is a good idea to be well-hydrated and well-fed before having blood drawn. Please tell the phlebotomist if you have had trouble having blood drawn in the past.
Can I be tested for other STIs while I am in a session?
Our services only include testing for chlamydia, gonorrhea, syphilis and HIV. If you are interested in testing or treatment for conditions including trichomoniasis or herpes please see the "Resources" page on the left hand navigation menu. The Take Care Down There Clinic and Sexual Health Clinic within Columbus Public Health may be able to assist you with these needs.
Who are the HIV/STI test counselors?
HIV/STI test counselors are student volunteers who are extensively trained on all aspects of HIV/STI test counseling. If you are interested in becoming an HIV/STI test counselor, please email firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.