We’re glad you asked. We recently created a short video to answer this exact question!
We recommend routine sexual health testing for everyone who is sexually active or uses injection drugs. You can ask the doctor or nurse that you see for your regular health care about STI testing or you can visit a sexual health clinic or drop-in clinic.
The testing clinician may start by asking you some questions and addressing concerns you may have. Assessment questions help them make recommendations about the tests that are right for you. It’s your right to decide which tests you would like. There are different tests for different infections, so you may be asked for a urine sample, a blood sample, or a swab of the cervix, throat or anus. They may also recommend a pap smear or examine the genital area to see any symptoms that are present.
Samples are then sent to a lab for analysis. In Manitoba, lab results are generally returned to the clinician within 2 weeks. Most clinicians will get in touch with you if there are any results that require follow up, but you may want to ask them what your next steps are, if any.
Lastly, you may want to have a conversation with them about how often you should come back for routine testing. Some people test every couple of years, some more than once a year. They may be able to help you decide how often is right for you. They may also be able to answer any questions you have about STI prevention, birth control, safer drug use, or other topics that relate to sexual health.
We hope this helps you as you get tested for the first time and then make STI testing part of your regular health care.