Testing for HIV and Sexually Transmitted Infections

HealthRFSL

It's important to know if you have HIV or some other STI. When you know you can get treatment. At the clinic for skin- and sexually transmitted illnesses at the county hospital you can get tested for different STIs.

Where can I get tested for HIV and Sexually transmitted infections (STIs)?
Younger people can get tested at a youth clinic. The upper age limit for youth clinics in Västernorrland is 23.

In Västernorrland there are different places where you can get tested. At the county hospital in Sundsvall you will find “Hud och Könsmottagningen”. You can also visit your local healthcare center to get tested. In Stockholm and Göteborg there are specialist centers for men who have sex with men. In Stockholm there’s a gynecological center for women who have sex with women and for trans people.

You can also order a home test for chlamydia and gonorrhea through “Mina Vårdkontakter” via the county council. You can also buy these tests at the pharmacy.

Testing for HIV
There are two main types of HIV tests; traditional blood test and a quick test. A traditional test can deliver a reliable results six weeks after the possible exposure and a quick test can give a reliable result after eight weeks. But you can of course get tested earlier, and often you can get a correct result within a couple of weeks after the possible exposure.

Some clinics will deny people an HIV test with the motivation that it’s unnecessary or that it’s too costly for them. In these cases they are going against the National Board of Health and Welfare’s guidelines that HIV testing should be offered generously, and are at fault. Furthermore, they are compensated for the HIV tests by the center for disease control in their county council, so it doesn’t cost them anything. .

Traditional test
The most common type of HIV test is taken through a blood sample from the arn at a healthcare clinic or other clinic within the healthcare system. The blood is then sent for analysis and you usually get the results after a couple of days. The advantage of getting tested within the healthcare system is that you can get  a nurse or counsellor to talk to if you want. If the result is positive you are automatically referred to an HIV doctor that you get to visit regularly for follow-up and treatment.

Quick test
Quick tests are relatively new in Sweden and aren’t readily available within the common healthcare yet. A quick test is made by taking a few drops of blood from the finger. You usually have the result within 15 minutes. When you do a quick test within the healthcare system you are automatically referred to an HIV doctor, just as with regular tests. The county council of Västernorrland doesn’t offer quick tests yet.

RFSL have during recent years offered quick tests at their premises. This is done in Stockholm and Skåne.

If you get a positive quick test you usually take another test to make sure, using the traditional method.

Tests for other sexually transmitted infections  

Different types of tests and testing methods are used for different STIs. Some are “tested” just by a doctor looking at you and hearing your symptoms. That can be the case with condyloma. Other STIs are tested through a urine sample. Then you get to pee in a cup or a test tube. There are also tests where a doctor or nurse take a sample with a cotton swab or a small brush from your throat, vagina, cervix, urethra and/or the anus, depending on where your symptoms are or how you’ve had sex. Some tests might be blood test taken from your arm or fingertip.

Important to know is that chlamydia and gonorrhea can be located in the anus or the throat. If you’ve had anal- or oral sex with a penis a cotton swab must be made in both these places. All clinics don’t do that, or know that it’s important, so you yourself might have to ask for these tests to be carried out.

If you are taking a blood test for HIV you can ask the staff to test the same sample for syphilis. If you are a man having sex with men we recommend it.

You won’t get immediate results for most test. They need to be sent to a laboratory for analysis, but you usually get the results within a couple of weeks. Sometimes you will only be notified if the test is positive. You can, however, contact the clinic and ask for the result.

You who are under 23 are welcome to contact Ungdomsmottagningen.
You who are over 22 are welcome to contact your healthcare clinic or Hud och Kön at the county hospital in Sundsvall.