STI testing always starts with a talk. The doctor or nurse asks questions about your symptoms and your sexual history. This information is strictly confidential. They’ll also explain the testing procedure and tell you when and how you’ll get the results. Testing for STIs is free of charge for registered residents of Saba via their health insurance.
Chlamydia and gonorrhea
You’ll always be tested for chlamydia and gonorrhea. Chlamydia is very contagious and is the most common STI on Saba. This test can be done by Saba Cares or by requesting a test kit from the Public Health department.
Testing for other STIs
You may also be tested for other STIs. This is done, for example, if you:
- Are a man who has sex with men.
- Have symptoms that indicate an STI.
- Have had unsafe sex with someone who has a greater risk of STIs.
- Were warned by a partner.
In that case, you’ll also be tested for syphilis, HIV and sometimes hepatitis B. You’ll always be asked about this first for your consent.
Some STIs can only be diagnosed when you are experiencing symptoms, for example:
- Genital warts
- Herpes (although the fluid in the sores is sometimes tested too)
- Scabies and pubic lice
The tests you’ll undergo depends on your symptoms and the way you’ve had sex.
How are you tested?
STI testing is done in different ways:
- Urine test (men and women)
- Blood test (men and women)
- Swab (vagina for women and anus and throat for men and women)
The type of test depends on your symptoms and the way you’ve had sex. That’s why it’s important to discuss this with the doctor or nurse.
Swab from the vagina
Women can take a swab from their own vagina. It’s easier than putting in a tampon! Insert a cotton bud into your vagina and wipe it for 10 seconds along the vagina wall. An examination using a speculum isn’t necessary unless you have symptoms.
Swab from the penis opening
A urine sample is sufficient to test for chlamydia in men. To test for gonorrhea, a cotton bud is sometimes used to take fluid from the urethra. This may be necessary if you have discharge from the penis, or pain while you pee.
An anus swab
You can usually take a swab from the anus yourself. Insert a cotton bud and wipe it for 10 seconds along the wall of your anus. If you’ve got symptoms in or around your anus, your doctor may have to take a look at it. This is done with an instrument that is inserted a short way into the anus. It’s used to take some fluid and to look at the anus from the inside. The doctor is then able to see genital herpes blisters, genital warts, or a syphilis ulcer.
A throat swab
Sometimes a swab is taken from the back of the throat. The doctor or nurse wipe the cotton bud along the back of the throat close to your tonsils. This doesn’t hurt.
When is the test reliable?
- Chlamydia and gonorrhea can be tested from two weeks after sexual contact.
- Tests for HIV, syphilis and hepatitis B give a reliable result after six weeks.
- Don’t have sex without a condom while waiting for your STI test result.
Do you have symptoms that might indicate an STI? Then don’t wait. Call Saba Cares for an appointment with your doctor on +599.416.3288.
To test for HIV, syphilis, and hepatitis B, you need to have a blood test done. A blood sample is taken at the Saba Cares laboratory.