Testing for Sexually Transmitted Infections

When should I get tested?

You can go for testing whenever you feel you might have been at risk. Treating an STI early can prevent further health complications. It's a good idea to get tested when:

  1. you have symptoms (but you may have an STIs without showing any symptoms, so testing is the only way to know for sure)
  2. your sexual partner has been diagnosed with an STI or has symptoms that may indicate an STI
  3. you feel you have engaged in higher risk activities
  4. you have started a new relationship
  5. you or your partner(s) have not been tested in the last year

Where can STI tests be done?

STD/STI clinics

  • Provide free, confidential testing and diagnosis for STIs and HIV, and treatment for most STIs
  • HIV testing is done nonnominal which means they do not ask for care cards and accept the name the client give
  • Smart Sex Resource has a clinic finder that lists STI clinics in BC

Family doctors/general practitioners

  • Provide free, confidential testing and diagnosis for STIs and HIV, and treatment for most STIs
  • HIV testing is done only confidentially — not anonymously — which means that the client’s name is used and is therefore connected to the results

Opt clinics

  • Provide free, confidential testing and diagnosis for STIs and HIV, and treatment for most STIs
  • HIV testing is done only confidentially — not anonymously — which means that the client’s name is used and thus connected to the result
  • Click here to find an Opt clinic near you

What kind of tests are there?

There are a variety of tests available for STIs. Although several tests can be done from one tube of blood, there is not one test that will cover all STIs. This is because some tests require urine, swabs, or specimens.

In most Opt clinics, we do not draw blood, we use urine and swab tests only.

For more information on, or to see which test would be used for a specific STI, and which tests you can request from your physican, visit Smart Sex Resource.

All information on this page has been reviewed by Options for Sexual Health's Director of Nursing and Clinical Services.

Reportable Diseases

A reportable disease is one that must be reported to the public health authorities. This helps public health officials to accurately determine trends, detect unusual occurrences, and monitor the effectiveness of public health interventions. Reporting requirements are mandated by provincial legislation and the list of reportable diseases differs by province/territory.

In British Columbia this list is available in the Health Act, Communicable Disease Regulation, and includes communicable diseases like measles, tuberculosis and hepatitis as well as some STIs. Reportable STIs are also listed in the Venereal Disease Act. The reportable STIs in British Columbia are:

  • Gonorrhea
  • Syphilis
  • Chlamydia
  • HIV AIDS
  • Hepatitis A
  • Hepatitis B
  • Hepatitis C

Partner notification

When an STI result comes back positive for a reportable disease, the nurse will also need to notify sexual partner(s) so that they can also be tested, treated, and counselled about STI prevention. This process assists in minimizing the risk of infection to others and re-infection to the original client.

In OPT clinics, the nurse works with the client to notify sexual partners; this is done confidentially (the client’s name will not be mentioned). Alternatively, clients can notify their own partners.

The BC Centre for Disease Control or Public Health, depending on where you live, will initiate partner notification if the client or health provider are unable to notify sexual partners.