Screening for STD’s
How to Get Tested for STDs Without Letting Your Parents Know
Testing for STDs can be a nerve-wracking experience. If you are under 18, you may feel overwhelmed, guilty, or stressed about the procedure. Perhaps you may feel uncomfortable talking to your parents about your sexual history and health concerns. If you've had sexual contact without protection, though, it's very important that you get yourself tested for STDs. You want to both to protect yourself and to protect your boyfriend or girlfriend. You want to consider the health of anyone you might be intimate with in the future.
Preparing for Your Visit
Find out if your clinic of choice accepts walk-ins.At some clinics you can just drop in for an appointment, and at other clinics you may have to make an appointment. Call ahead or visit their website and make an appointment if necessary. Provide as much detail as you can about your concerns. You want the health professionals to be able to help to the best of their ability.
- Also find out if you will have to pay for the testing and/or treatments, and how much that may cost.
- In most cases, you won't want to use health insurance to pay for these tests, as your parents will usually get a bill for the services. This would alert them to some of the details of your visit, such as what tests were done or what medications were prescribed.
Provide your medical history.Your doctor may want to know about any prior diseases or surgeries you have had. They may want to know if any diseases run in your family. Providing a clear detailed history will help the health professional give you the best help they can.
- Be honest about any STDs you may have had in the past or that your sexual partner may have.
Make a list of your medications.Write down all of the medications you are currently taking or have recently stopped taking. Include dose and frequency. This information is helpful in the diagnosis process and can provide additional helpful information. Make sure you include vitamins and supplements, too.
Be prepared for what the test will entail.Depending on the procedures at a given clinic, your sample might be collected through a urine sample, a swab from the mouth or genital area, or a blood sample.You can ask ahead of time, when you call for information, how the clinic of your choice administers its tests.
Getting the Most Out of the Clinic Visit
Be blunt about your concerns.Be as clear as possible that you don’t want your parents to find out about your test. Make sure that the staff at the clinic will not accidentally call your house to deliver your results, or send them to your house through the mail. Ask the staff to make a note of such details in your file in order to prevent accidents.
- Also make sure your parents won't receive a bill for the testing or treatment.
Do not forget about your emotional health.Tell the doctor or nurse about how you are feeling about the testing or your health. They are there to help both your body and mind. Express concerns about depression or fear if you have them. They will be able to help or provide additional resources.
Answer the medical staff’s questions honestly.Be prepared to answer some very invasive questions about your sexual history, but know that they’re not asking these questions to judge you. They need that information to make the best decisions about your testing and health. Furthermore, there’s nothing you’ve done that they haven’t heard before, so be perfectly honest in all of the answers you give to their questions.
- Also be prepared that they may need the names of your sexual partners, especially if any of your tests are positive.
Ask questions.The best way to deal with your situation and to prevent future mishaps is to educate yourself. Before the test begins, ask them to walk you through the process before they begin to set your mind at ease. It’s easier to stay calm when you know exactly what will happen.
Prepare to wait for results.The wait-time on the test results will vary based on what diseases they’re testing for and the backlog in the clinic’s laboratory, so ask how long you’ll have to wait to hear back from them.
Provide a secure phone number for the results.Don’t put your house number down for the result delivery. Give them your cell phone number, or that of a friend or trusted relative (with his or her permission, of course) if you don’t want to risk your parents picking up your cell phone. If the clinic staff doesn’t like that idea, ask them to wait for you to call them for your results, rather than them contacting you.
- It may also be possible for you to access your results online.
Educating Yourself on STD Testing
Research your local options.Look for testing sites that are open and encouraging to patients under 18 years of age. The medical workers at these clinics will be less likely to notify your parents if you live in an area where they are allowed to do so. If you want to be absolutely sure that your parents cannot find out that you had an STD test, you should call your local facilities and ask whether or not they receive Federal Title X funds, as Title X organizations must provide confidential services to minors.
- Planned Parenthood is a Title X organization that is committed to the confidentiality of minors.
- You can find other providers in your area through the website for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
- Many clinics, such as Planned Parenthood, offer STD testing free of charge, but others charge a fee. Make sure you know whether or not you need to pay for this service at your clinic of choice and how much it might cost.
- The exception to confidentiality is if the teenager is a victim of child abuse or sexual abuse, or if the patient is posing a threat to others.
Familiarize yourself with the law.Nowhere in the United States are medical professionals required by law to inform the parents of minors of STD tests, but there are many states that allow them to notify parents without a minor's consent if they wish, usually if they feel it's in the best interest of the minor.
- Note that all clinics that receive Federal Title X funds are required to provide confidential services to minors.
- The states that allow medical officials to notify parents of STD tests administered to minors without needing their consent are: Alabama, Arkansas, Delaware, Georgia, Hawaii, Illinois, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maryland, Maine, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Montana, New Jersey, North Dakota, Oklahoma, and Texas.
- The states in which you must be 14 or older to consent to an STD test are: Hawaii, New Hampshire, North Dakota, and Washington.
- South Carolina allows STD test consent for “mature minors 15 and younger and all minors 16 and older.”
Ask a trusted friend or adult to accompany you.Having a companion will help calm your nerves. Choose someone who won’t let you back out at the last second, but at the same time will be sensitive to your concerns and provide a good, strong shoulder to lean on.
QuestionWhat if you don't drive and the clinic is far away?
Doctor of MedicineDoctor of MedicineExpert AnswerFirst, ask a friend or trusted relative to drive you. Next, see if a bus or other public transportation can get you there safely. You could try a taxi, but that would probably be expensive. You could always call the clinic and see if they have any options to help you get there and back.Thanks!
QuestionDoes Mississippi give out your results to an STD to your parents?
Doctor of MedicineDoctor of MedicineExpert AnswerIn Mississippi, medical providers are not allowed to give out your STD testing results to your parents without your consent. In addition, in any state, you can go to a Planned Parenthood or another clinic with Federal Title X funding to assure your privacy.Thanks!
- Planned Parenthood specializes in helping teenagers. If you are shy, know that this place deals with many teens and will not judge you.
- Always remember to use protection when having sex in the future. Talk to the provider about the best ways to stay safe, and if they can give you condoms or recommend or prescribe other options.
- Ask your sexual partner to go to the clinic with you and get tested at the same time. This way, you'll both know that you're completely free of any potentially contagious diseases when you're together.
- Not telling your parents could cause you more trouble. If something is bothering you, parents can almost always tell and may try to find out what's wrong. If you can't talk to your parents, consider talking to a trusted adult relative such as an aunt or uncle.
Sources and Citations
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Video: How to Get Tested for STDs
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