You might be wondering what happens when you get tested. The answer is that getting tested for STIs is quick and easy. The test itself depends on what’s being tested for and how you’ve had sex. Nevertheless, the test rarely takes more than about 15 minutes. You’re entitled to get tested free of charge and have free treatment for STIs that come under the Swedish Communicable Diseases Act. This applies to chlamydia, gonorrhoea, HIV, syphilis, and hepatitis.
Sexually transmitted infections
Sexually transmitted infections, or STIs, are transmitted through mucous membranes which are found in the urethra, under the edge of the glans, on the inside of the foreskin (if present), and in the anus and throat, for example. It’s important that you say where you need to be tested (but you don’t have to say how you’ve had sex if you don’t want to!).
To find out if you’ve got gonorrhoea or chlamydia in the throat, the person testing you will swab the back of your mouth.
And the test for chlamydia and gonorrhoea in the cock or pussy is the easiest – often you just pee in a plastic cup! Just make sure you don’t pee right before testing! Sometimes the staff may instead test for chlamydia or gonorrhoea in the pussy with a cotton swab, if you have symptoms. You may feel it a bit, but it only lasts a second or so. And the swab is actually quite small – despite the rumours!
To test for gonorrhoea or chlamydia in the anus, a cotton swab is rolled against the inside.
HIV, syphilis and hepatitis
When you get tested for HIV, syphilis or hepatitis, you give a blood sample. Once the samples have been taken, they are sent for analysis, and you usually get the results within 7 days. You can talk to the clinic about how you get the results, but they generally prefer to call you if the results come back positive for any infection. If you feel uncomfortable about this, ask to make an appointment to get the results in person.
When it comes to HIV, there’s also a rapid test you can do that gives a result within 1-15 minutes, depending on the brand. Remember that there is an initial period during which HIV cannot be detected, oftentimes called the window period. For the laboratory test, the guideline in Sweden is 6 weeks, and for the rapid test it is 8 weeks. For syphilis, the window period is up to 3 months. For both infections, they may be detected way earlier than that, but to have a reliable negative result, the follow up period needs to be considered.