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Some people may have concerns about accessing sexually transmitted infection (STI) testing. Some local organizations may offer free or low cost STI tests. We have chosen our top picks for low cost, convenient kits.

The World Health Organization (WHO) states that worldwide, people contract more than 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 an at-home STI test free or for a low cost.

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 screenings for HIV and hepatitis. People can enter their state, city, or ZIP code to find local 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 those in lower income households.
  • Community health centers: Community health centers may offer lower cost testing for those in lower income households.
  • Healthcare professionals: Most doctors offer STI testing. This may be a more affordable option if a person’s insurance covers the cost of the tests and any potential treatment.
  • Student centers: Student centers at colleges may offer low cost STI testing. People can 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.

Various online STI clinic finders are available, helping people locate low cost or free testing. The following are some options:

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.

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 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. If they receive this result, they can contact the company for more advice.

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 1 week after the lab receives their samples.

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
freediscreet1 to 6 daystests are free for eligible peopledoes not offer treatment or medical support
Nurx$29.50 with insurance

$150 to $220 without
discreet7 business daysoffers ongoing medical supportexpensive without insurance
Lemonaid$53.16discreet3 to 5 business dayspossible prescription treatment, depending on the resultsdoes not accept insurance
Everlywell$69 to $169discreet2 to 5 daysaccepts FSA and HSA paymentsdoes not accept insurance
LetsGet
Checked
$99 to $249discreet2 to 5 daysoffers free prescriptionsfree prescriptions unavailable in some states
STDcheck$24 to $259none1 to 2 daysprovides doctor consultation with a positive resultrequires visiting testing centers

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

  • Laboratories: Where possible, MNT will select companies that process test samples in
    Clinical Laboratory Improvement Amendments-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.

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

Not all STIs have symptoms. It is important for people to undergo regular testing 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:

Some STIs also increase the risk of pregnancy loss.

Everyone will need to undergo testing if they believe they are at risk of contracting an STI or showing symptoms of an STI.

Symptoms

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

People need to undergo 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:

  • Chlamydia: 2 weeks
  • Gonorrhea: 2 weeks
  • Syphilis: 3 months
  • Trichomoniasis: 1 month
  • Herpes: 4 months
  • Hepatitis B: 3 to 6 weeks
  • Hepatitis C: 6 months
  • HPV: 3 weeks to several months
  • HIV (mouth swab): 3 months
  • HIV (blood test): 6 weeks

How often should you test?

The CDC recommends that the following people receive testing:

What to test forHow often to test
People ages 13 to 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 to 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 share injection drug equipmentHIVannually

People need to 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.

Take Me Home provides free testing to those eligible. The type of testing people can get may depend on the state they live in. Individuals may also consider trying Planned Parenthood clinics, college or university health centers, and mobile clinics to get free STI testing.

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.

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 sexually transmitted infection (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 those in lower income households.