LM: We are so glad you asked! It’s important to make sure that all Harvard students know that they can receive free STI (Sexually Transmitted Infection) testing at HUHS. There are a few ways to make this happen. If you are currently experiencing symptoms that you think are related to an STI, please call or go to Urgent Care. If this is a preventive visit, you can either call 617-495-5711 or follow the steps below to make an appointment (it is somewhat click-intensive):
Log into the HUHS Patient Portal with your HarvardKey.
Choose the “Profile” tab on the left, and check who your Primary Care Clinician is.
Choose the “Appointments” tab on the left and then click the “Schedule an Appointment” button.
Choose the “STI (Sexually Transmitted Infection) Testing option and click continue.
Choose the “Continue to schedule your STI Testing with your Primary Care Team” option and click continue.
Select your Primary Care Team and click continue.
Type a few words into the text box. You can just put “STI testing” if that feels right. Click continue.
Check that your information is correct, then click continue.
Type your phone number, then click continue.
The system will look for available appointment times. Unfortunately, it only checks for appointment availability within your “Primary Care Team,” so you just have to hope that your team has some appointments available!
If not, you can try picking a date farther out, or start the process over and try again with a different care team.
AA: When you go in, you’ll meet with a clinician and they may ask you about your specific concerns and sexual practices. This is just so they can get a sense of what to test you for so try to be honest. Then, based on this, they’ll take either a blood or urine sample and do an exam of the possibly affected area. Also, it’s worth mentioning here that tests are often unable to detect STIs immediately after a sexual encounter. If there’s one specific sexual experience you think might have exposed you to an STI then you should wait two weeks before getting tested so that the test is actually accurate.
We do want to note that in the case of sexual violence, HUHS does not provide SANE kits. If you would like more information about SANE kits, please call OSAPR’s hotline at 617-495-9100.
LM: Moving on to your next question, anonymity is a really common concern when people think about getting STI tested at HUHS.
AA: Lab tests are processed by Quest Diagnostics, which is located in the HUHS basement. Confusingly, Quest is a separate company with their own billing system. To protect students’ anonymity since STI testing is a sensitive topic, HUHS has requested that Quest bill HUHS directly for STI testing, rather than billing the student’s insurance.
Because of that, there are a few recommended steps for students to take to ensure anonymity:
Remind the lab tech to bill HUHS for the sample;
For greater confidence, you can also call your insurance company to request that your Explanation of Benefits is sent to your campus address (this is on the unlikely off-chance that your insurance does get billed due to human error).
LM: The tests may take up to a week to be completed and then you will get the result over your HUHS secure messages. If you test positive for an STI then they will follow up with you for next steps about treatment options. We want to end by affirming that there are outside providers that may be more accessible for some individuals. Some outside options for STI (including HIV) testing are:
Located at 1340 Boylston Street, Boston, MA 02215
Located at 330 Mount Auburn Street, Cambridge, MA 02138
AA: We know that STI testing can seem daunting but it’s a really great thing to practice regularly. If have further questions don’t hesitate to contact us or HUHS. Thanks for your question!