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Local organizations often offer free or low cost STI testing. While most companies do not offer free STI testing, we have chosen our top picks for low cost, convenient kits.

The World Health Organization (WHO) states that worldwide, people contract 1 million STIs daily. In 2021, data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) showed that chlamydia, gonorrhea, and syphilis infections continued to increase in the United States.

Free and low cost STI testing can help people identify and manage STIs.

This article discusses what home STI testing is, how often a person should test, and where someone can go to find free or low cost STI testing.

A note about sex and gender

Sex and gender exist on spectrums. This article will use the terms “male,” “female,” or both to refer to sex assigned at birth. Click here to learn more.

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Some organizations may offer free or low cost STI tests.

TakeMeHome helps health departments offer free at-home STI, HIV, and preexposure prophylaxis (PrEP) tests to local people. A collaboration between Emory University, NASTAD, which provides HIV and AIDs support worldwide, and Building Healthy Online Communities (BHOC), an organization that advocates for gay men’s health online.

According to Planned Parenthood, health insurance, Medicaid, and other government assistance programs can also provide free STI testing. Some Planned Parenthood centers offer free or low cost testing depending on a person’s income.

The CDC’s Get Tested tool provides a database of places that offer free or low cost STI testing, including screens for HIV and hepatitis. People can enter their state, city, or ZIP code to find local centers.

Home STI testing is similar to the testing a person receives in a doctor’s office or healthcare clinic. These tests screen for the presence of infections such as chlamydia and gonorrhea.

To perform a test, a person collects their sample, usually a urine, blood, or swab sample, and then sends it to a lab. Testing at home may be more convenient and private than testing in a clinic, and some companies offer care and advice if a person receives a positive test result.

While there may be some loss of accuracy when taking a home test, if a person follows the instructions on the test kit carefully, home test results are generally reliable. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) recommends that people call the company if they have any questions about collecting a sample.

Learn more about the best at-home STI tests.

Testing for STIs is important to prevent transmitting an infection to sexual partners.

Not all STIs have symptoms. It is important for people to test regularly to ensure that they and their sexual partners receive any treatment necessary to protect their health.

It is also important to test regularly because STIs can cause complications. For example, chlamydia and gonorrhea can cause pelvic inflammatory disease and lead to infertility.

Pregnant people who have an STI can pass the infection to their infant during delivery. Certain infections can cause premature birth, low birth weight, or lung and kidney infections. Some STIs also increase the chance of pregnancy loss.

Everyone should receive testing if they believe they are at risk of contracting an STI or showing symptoms of an STI.

Symptoms

Symptoms may include an unusual color, odorous discharge, or urinating pain. However, people can have STIs without having symptoms.

People should receive testing if a sexual partner discloses that they have an infection. STI testing is more accurate after the infection is in the detection period.

Some populations should receive regular testing to minimize the risk of complications. We outline these groups in greater detail below.

Learn more about STI testing.

Detection period

Below, we describe how long after exposure STI tests generally start yielding reliable results:

How often should you test?

The CDC recommends that the following people receive testing:

What to test forHow often to test
people aged 13–64 yearsHIVat least once
people who are pregnant• HIV
• syphilis
• hepatitis B
• hepatitis C
• gonorrhea
• chlamydia
early pregnancy
males who have sex with males• chlamydia
• gonorrhea
• syphilis
• HIV
• hepatitis C
• annually
• every 3–6 months, if they have several partners
• annually for hepatitis C, if they have HIV
sexually active females under 25 years• gonorrhea
• chlamydia
annually
sexually active females over 25 years• gonorrhea
• chlamydia
annually, if they have multiple partners or a partner with an STI
people who inject drugsHIVannually

While each company may have slightly different instructions, home STI tests generally require:

  • collecting samples, which may involve a finger prick blood test, genital swab, or urine collection
  • placing the samples in a prepaid envelope and sending them off to a lab
  • waiting several days for the test results

Companies will provide detailed instructions on how to collect a sample correctly. If a person finds it difficult to perform a finger prick test, they may wish to ask a friend or family member for help.

Some companies will also offer follow-up care and advice if a person receives a positive test result.

Types of results

Usually, home tests will return one of the following results:

  • Positive or detected: This means the lab has detected the presence of an STI in a person’s sample.
  • Negative or not detected: This means the test has not detected the presence of an STI.
  • Indeterminate: This may mean a person has not collected a sample correctly. People can contact the company for more advice if they receive this result.

How long do results take?

The time it takes a company to return results depends on the type of test a person takes and the company that offers it.

However, people can typically expect home STI test results around a week after the lab receives their samples.

Medical News Today chooses at-home tests that meet the following criteria:

  • Laboratories: Where possible, MNT will choose companies that process test samples in CLIA-certified labs. This means they follow state and federal regulations.
  • Budget: MNT chooses at-home tests that suit a wide range of budgets.
  • Privacy: MNT includes companies that offer robust and transparent privacy measures, such as data protection and discreet packaging.
  • Test result speed: MNT selects companies that inform customers of when they will receive their test results and whether they will receive them via email, app, or phone.
  • Further support: MNT will indicate whether a company offers further support, such as a follow-up phone consultation with a doctor to discuss test results.

Medical News Today follows a strict product selection and vetting process. Learn more here.

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Below are some free or lower-cost home STI tests available to purchase online.

Medical News Today has tested some of the products below. Reviewers may have received some products from the manufacturers for free, which does not influence their review. All opinions are the reviewers’ own.

The following table compares the home STI tests in this article.

PricePackagingResults timeProsCons
TakeMe
Home
freediscrete1–6 daysthe tests are free for eligible peopleit does not offer treatment or medical support
Nurx$29.50 with insurance

$150–$220 without
discrete7 business daysoffers ongoing medical supportexpensive without insurance
Everlywell$69–$169discrete2–5 daysaccepts FSA and HSA paymentsdoes not accept insurance
LetsGet
Checked
$99–$249discrete2–5 daysoffers free prescriptionsfree prescriptions not available in all states
MyLabBox$59–$399discrete2–5 daysoffers a range of STI testsfull panels more expensive than other options
PrioritySTD$59–$198none1–3 daysfeatures more accurate sample collectionnot as convenient as taking a sample at home
STDcheck$24–$259none1–2 daysprovides doctor consultation with a positive resultrequires visiting testing centers

Some several organizations and locations may offer free or low cost STI testing:

  • Planned Parenthood health centers: Planned Parenthood may offer lower-cost testing for lower-income people. Learn more here.
  • Community health centers: Community health centers may offer lower-cost testing for lower-income people. Learn more here.
  • Healthcare professionals: Most doctors offer STI testing. This may be an affordable option if their insurance covers the cost of the tests and any potential treatment.
  • Student centers: Student centers at colleges may offer low cost STI testing. People should view their college’s website for more information.
  • Local health departments: A person’s local health department may be able to offer information about where to find low cost STI testing near a person’s home.

People should consider contacting a healthcare professional or using an at-home STI test if they have sex without a barrier method, such as a condom, with someone who may have an STI. They should also contact a doctor if they experience any symptoms of an STI.

Yes, people can perform STI tests on themselves. Several companies offer at-home test kits with detailed instructions.

Many companies offer at-home test kits that check for various STIs. People can receive their results, and in some cases, prescriptions or follow-up advice, within a couple of weeks after sending in their sample.

However, people can talk with a doctor if they do not understand their results, or if the results are not what they expected.

Rapid STI tests use nucleic acid amplification (NAAT). These can provide results in around 3.5 hours.

These tests have a comparable accuracy to non-rapid versions. For example, the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force states that NAAT chlamydia and gonorrhea testing is as sensitive and accurate as cervical, vaginal, or urethral specimen testing.

Yes, Take Me Home is a legitimate way to get free STI testing. The organization is a collaboration between Building Healthy Online Communities, NASTAD, and Emory University.

Take Me Home provides free testing to eligible people. The type of testing available may depend on a person’s state of residence.

No federal policy provides free STI testing in the United States. While some clinics offer free testing, many places require payment.

People may get free STI testing at Planned Parenthood clinics, college or university health centers, and mobile clinics.

At-home STI testing is a convenient and private way to screen for these infections. Several companies offer lower-cost STI testing online.

People can also use local resources to find free or low cost testing. Planned Parenthood, local community centers, and student centers may offer subsidized testing for lower-income people.