Ask NCYL: How can I get STD testing for free?

You’ve sent us your questions about sex, pregnancy, and parenting rights. Each month, we’ll pick one to answer here on the blog. Check out our first Q&A below!

Q: How can I get STD testing for free and without my parents knowing?

A: Whether you’re sexually active or just getting started, it’s important to get tested regularly to make sure you’re healthy and safe.  But STD testing can feel awkward or embarrassing, and sometimes people aren’t comfortable talking with their peers or parents about sex.

If you’re 12 or older, you have the right to get preventive care and be tested and treated for sexually transmitted diseases without your parents’ knowledge or permission.  That’s the law.

If you are 12 or older and a doctor tells you that you need to have your parents’ permission to get STD testing, treatment or prevention, you can contact a legal services agency near you or contact us.  Your doctor also cannot tell your parents you got STD testing, or the results of the test, without you giving the doctor permission to share that information.

You can get confidential, free or low-cost testing at many clinics, like Planned Parenthood.  You can also go to your regular doctor to get health care services for free if your insurance covers the cost.  However, it’s important to note that if you use your parents’ insurance, there’s a chance they could find out about your testing when they receive the insurance bill unless you send in a confidential communications request.You can find out about confidential communications requests here. You can find out more about free testing options here.

No one can force you to get tested (in fact, it’s against the law for a health provider to test you without your permission).  But it’s important to note that you can get STDs and STIs from oral, vaginal, or anal sex. So if you’re having any kinds of sexual encounters, it’s really important to get tested, for your safety and the safety of others!

Will anyone find out if I have an STI?

Generally, no one can find out if you have an STI unless you want them to, because that information must be kept confidential unless you give permission for it to be shared. But some STIs are “reportable diseases.” That means the state health system wants to keep track of them and control their spread.

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Is HIV different from other STIs?

HIV is an Sexually Transmitted Infection (STI) but unlike most STIs, it does not have a cure. HIV can cause a person to get AIDS, which people can die from. Although HIV/AIDS does not currently have a cure, it can be treated.

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Do I have to get tested for HIV?

No. In most cases, you decide whether to get tested for HIV. If you decide not to get tested, it is against the law for a health care provider to test you without your permission.

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