Find the right STI testing service for you - Play Safe
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What is STI testing?

STI testing is the process of running medical tests to check for any sexually transmitted infections (STIs). It is quick, easy, and confidential. Most STI tests only require a blood test and either a self-collected swab or a urine sample.


Why is STI testing important?

STIs can be spread during oral, vaginal, or anal sex and are more common than you might think. However, many STIs don’t show any symptoms, which is why getting tested every 6-12 months is important to protect you and your partner/s and to ensure any STIs are treated as quickly as possible.

If you haven’t had an STI test before, or it’s been a while since your last test, it can be hard to know where to start.

The good news is that there are so many different places that offer STI testing in NSW including in person, and telehealth/online options. So no matter your circumstances, there’s an STI testing service for you.


STI testing services

STI testing is widely available across NSW and can be done through a number of different services. The best way to find your local STI testing location is to visit the healthdirect website.  Some of the different types of STI testing services include:


General practitioners (GPs) are medical doctors and are who most people see to get an STI test.

GPs are trained to diagnose and treat a wide range of health issues, including STIs.

Not only can GPs order STI tests, but they can also give you information about STI prevention, provide you with treatment if needed and even connect you to specialised services and counselling if required.

If you have a Medicare card and get an STI test at a bulk-billing GP practice, it will be free. If you get an STI test at a non-bulk billing or part-bulk billing GP practice, the pathology (urine and blood tests) will be free, but there may be a cost to see the doctor to get the test.

Sexual health clinics

There are a number of NSW Health funded sexual health clinics across NSW that provide a range of sexual health services to those most at risk of STIs and HIV. These clinics are confidential and free but most clinics only have the capacity to see people most at risk of STIs and HIV. To find out where to you can get tested, call the NSW Sexual Health Infolink on 1800 451 624 or visit the healthdirect website.

Youth centres

Some community youth centres offer free STI testing and other sexual health services if you’re under the age of 25. Visit the headspace website and filter your search results to view locations near you.

LGBTQIA+ sexual health centres

There’s a number of specialised LGBTQIA+ sexual health services in NSW that offer STI testing including, aTEST and Check OUT clinic. All NSW Health sexual health services are also available to the LGBTQIA+ community.

Aboriginal Medical Services (AMSs)

Aboriginal Medical Services, also known as AMSs, are health centres that provide culturally safe healthcare and services to Aboriginal people across the state. All AMSs have sexual health services available on site and are bulk billed.

Family planning services

Family Planning NSW is an independent, non-profit organisation that offers reproductive and sexual health services. Capacity is limited, so it’s best to call in advance and make an appointment.

Telehealth and online services

Telehealth services usually involve having an online video conversation with a doctor instead of visiting a doctor in person. Depending on the reason for your appointment, this option may not be suitable, especially if you are experiencing any suspected STI symptoms.

If the doctor thinks that you should be tested for STIs, they will email or text you a pathology referral. You can then visit the relevent pathology provider/service to get the tests you need.

If you have a Medicare card, the tests may be free but you may still need to pay the doctor for the appointment, There are many telehealth/online options so it’s a good idea to compare prices and choose a service with Australian registered doctors.


Things to consider when choosing an STI testing service

No matter who you are, where you live, or what your sexual health needs are, there’s an STI testing service for you. When choosing an STI testing service it’s a good idea to consider:

1) Your location

STI testing services are available across NSW, but if you live in a regional or rural area, online/telehealth STI testing could be a good option for you.

2) Your budget

Many STI testing services are free, including bulk-billing GPs (if you have a Medicare card), some telehealth services, sexual health clinics (for people at most risk), Aboriginal Medical Services (AMSs) and other STI testing services run by community organisations (aTEST, headspace, Family Planning etc.

3) Where you feel safe

There are a range of STI testing services that provide specialist services to different communities including:

  • sexually and gender diverse people
  • young people under the age of 25
  • Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people
  • sex workers
  • individuals living with HIV or who are at higher risk of getting HIV
  • people from culturally and linguistically diverse communities

At any service you can usually ask to see a doctor or nurse that is male, female or gender diverse depending on who you feel comfortable with. Availability will vary depending on the individual service, so it’s best to call ahead of time to find out more.

If at any time during your appointment you feel uncomfortable or unsafe, you can ask to end the appointment and visit another sexual health service.

4) Whether you have symptoms or not

This will help determine what type of STI testing service you need. If you’re experiencing symptoms, it’s best to get them checked in person by a doctor or nurse.

5) Your accessibility needs

It’s also important to consider things like  what transport or parking options are available, whether you have any physical or sensory needs or will require language/translation support.. It’s always a good idea to contact the STI testing service to see if they can meet your needs before making an appointment.

6) Your schedule

Every STI testing service will have different opening hours, so it’s important to consider when you might be able to go when choosing an STI testing service.


Other FAQs about STI Testing

Who needs to get tested for STIs?

Anyone who is sexually active (oral, vaginal, or anal sex) needs to get tested for STIs. Remember, many STIs don’t show any symptoms, so to keep you and your partner/s safe, it’s important to be tested regularly.

How often do I really need to be tested for STIs?

We typically suggest getting an STI test every 6-12 months, but this will depend on a number of things including how many sexual partners you have, what kind of sex you have, your sexual health history, what medication you take (e.g. PrEP), if you are pregnant, or looking to become pregnant, and more. That’s why it’s important to be honest about your sexual history with your doctor or nurse so they can give you the best advice. You can also speak to a sexual health nurse over the phone for free via our confidential Sexual Health Infolink service.

Can I get an STI test if I don’t have a Medicare card?

Yes, you can still get an STI test even if you don’t have a Medicare card. This may mean that you have to pay a small amount of money out of pocket to see the doctor, but the actual STI test (pathology) should be free if you are covered by a Reciprocal Health Care Agreement, Overseas Visitors Health Covers (OVHC) or Overseas Student Health Cover (OSHC).

Is STI testing anonymous?

Like any medical information, getting an STI test is 100% confidential. If you’re concerned, we’d suggest speaking with the STI testing service to find out more about this. Alternatively, you can speak anonymously to a qualified sexual health nurse for free by calling 1800 451 624.

If you would like more information about confidentiality laws in NSW visit NSW Health, or if you’re under the age of 16 check out Youth Law Australia.

How do I choose a doctor?

Whether you choose to see a doctor you’ve seen before, or someone new, it’s important that you feel comfortable having an open and honest conversation with whoever you choose to see. A good doctor will listen to what you have to say, not judge you or your behaviour, ask questions so they can better understand your concerns and offer you the best possible care, answer any questions you might have, make you feel safe and explain things in a way that you can understand.

When choosing a doctor, consider what is important to you. Would you like a doctor who is a certain gender or age? Someone who works somewhere that is easy for you to get to? A practice that offers bulk-billing or has billing options that fit your budget? A doctor who has additional training or qualifications in sexual health? Finding a GP that you feel comfortable with and can be 100% honest with is essential to ensure you receive the best care possible. We always suggest trying to find a doctor that lists sexual health as an area of interest on thier website.

What questions will I be asked during my appointment?

During a sexual health check-up or STI test, you will be asked questions relating to your sexual health that may feel a little embarrassing. These are standard questions that your doctor should ask every patient. While many of these questions are quite personal, it’s important to answer as honestly as you can so that your doctor can better support your health needs. You can skip any questions you prefer not to answer.

Here are some questions you might be asked along with general questions about your overall health and lifestyle:

  • Are you sexually active?
  • What is the gender identity of the person/people you have had sex with?
  • Do you have oral sex, vaginal sex and/or anal sex?
  • What medication do you take?
  • Do you have any symptoms that you are concerned about?
  • When was the last time you had sex?
  • Have you ever been diagnosed with (or thought you had) an STI?
  • Have you had a new partner recently?
  • Do you use any contraception/condoms?

Remember, if during your appointment you feel uncomfortable or unsafe in any way, you can ask to end the appointment and visit another sexual health service.

What STIs will I be tested for?

The Australian STI Management Guidelines (which tell doctors to know what STI tests to run) recommend that as a minimum, every STI test includes checking for chlamydia, gonorrhoea, HIV and syphilis. Some online testing services offer tests for more infections, but these tests are often unecessary and not very helpful in most cases.

However, the exact tests you receive will depend on a number of things, including the type of STI testing service you visit, your overall health, your sexual health history, whether you have any symptoms and how experienced your doctor is when it comes to sexual health and STI testing.

This is why it’s important to be open with your doctor/nurse and answer all their questions honestly, so they can give you the best care possible.

How do I talk about STI testing and STIs with my sexual partner/s?

It might feel scary, but open and honest communication with your partner/s about sexual health, STI testing and whether you have an STI is really important. Don’t stress though, you can always check out our top tips for tackling this conversation on our blog.

I’ve been diagnosed with an STI, but I’m not sure what to do?

If you’ve been diagnosed with a sexually transmissible infection (STI), you might be feeling a bit overwhelmed, worried, or unsure about what’s next. That’s why we put together a step by step guide that will help you figure out what you need to do if you just found out you have an STI.


Resources and support for STI testing

If you need further support around getting an STI test, interpreting your results, or figuring out what to do if you have tested positive for an STI, check out these services:

  • Twenty10 – LGBTQIA+ free counselling for young people in NSW
  • Talkline – free sexual and reproductive health hotline run by Family Planning Australia
  • Sexual Health Info Link – NSW Health sexual health advice line
  • Healthdirect – features an interactive map to help you find a testing location near you
  • Better to Know – sexual health resource for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people
  • Headspace – online and in-person mental health and wellbeing support for young people