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Chlamydia self-screen offers new way to test for STIs
If you are sexually active, getting regularly tested for sexually transmitted infections (STIs) is an important part of your overall health, but some students are not comfortable discussing their intimate partner relationships with a health care provider.
In August, UHS began to offer a chlamydia self-screen option for females with the goal to test more students and provide a new option for students who may not feel comfortable discussing their sexual health with a provider. Liz Falk, a nurse practitioner in the Women’s Health Clinic, says perceived barriers may keep students from making an appointment with a provider. “We know there are students who have concerns about their sexual health but talking to someone is not their preference. We want to provide an opportunity to get screened and access to UHS services in any way that is right for them.”
Falk says there are many students who don’t utilize UHS services but who fall into the category of those who should be annually screened for chlamydia.
Chlamydia is the most commonly reported STI in the United States and there is a higher prevalence of chlamydia in young women. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends that all sexually active women under the age of 25 regardless of the number of partners—current or previous—get tested for chlamydia each year. In women, chlamydia is most commonly spread through vaginal sex, and if left untreated, may cause pelvic inflammatory disease or infertility. For most, chlamydia has no symptoms and the symptoms that do appear—such as a burning sensation while urinating or abnormal vaginal discharge—may not appear for several weeks or may be mistaken for something else.
CDC data shows that the national rate of reported cases of chlamydia has been increasing in recent years. Males have similar rates for chlamydia as females but their risk for untreated infection is lower.
“We want to normalize routine testing for STIs, especially for women. If you’re sexually active, you should get tested every year. We’re not singling out people who are higher-risk. It’s just for everyone.”
Making a chlamydia self-screen appointment is simple.
- Log into MyUHS and select the self-screen option on the homepage
- Select a time for a lab visit and whether you want to do a urine test or a vaginal swab
- Check-in for the appointment and go to the lab desk to receive the specimen label and instructions on how to collect the specimen.
Falk says there is no need to interact with any staff except to receive the specimen label in the lab. Results are typically available in three to five business days. “The test is no-cost, easy, painless and you can do it on your own terms.”
Falk hopes offering a convenient testing option helps to catch positive infections early so female students can be treated without the risk of long-term health effects. Down the road, UHS hopes to offer self-screen tests for other STIs and to all students regardless of sex.