Sexual Health and STI Testing

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STI Testing Options 

  • Order your own tests. If you do not have symptoms, you don’t need to see a medical provider. Use Health e-Messenger to schedule a time to go to the lab or drop in to pick up a self testing kit. 
  • Make an appointment with a provider if you have symptoms. Call 831-459-2500 for an appointment or visit our Same Day Care department.
  • Get help. If you’re not sure what tests to order or when to test, talk to a Health Educator at Student Health Outreach and Promotion (SHOP: 831-459-3772) or talk to a nurse at Student Health Services by calling 831-459-2591.

Order Your Own Tests for Sexually Transmitted Infections (STIs)

Anyone who is sexually active should think about testing for sexually transmitted infections (STIs). Make it part of your regular health care and test often. Your testing options depend on whether you have STI symptoms or would just like to do STI testing. 

You have two choices:

  • Grab a take home kit from the health center laboratory lobby and follow the enclosed instructions.
  • Schedule a time to go to the lab to get your STI test. Go to your Health e-Messenger > Messages > new message > Self-Ordered STI Testing. Complete the questionnaire and submit.

Which STI Tests Should I Get?

Here is a list of the different types of STI screeningsThere’s more information on our SHOP page about when to test! Herpes: Students are not able to order their own herpes blood test for herpes, due to the chance of a false positive. This means the test can indicate that a person has been exposed to herpes but the test can be wrong. For these reasons we do not recommend routine herpes blood tests. Please consult our nurse advice line for more guidance with herpes testing. 

Test the right body parts

  •  A urine gonorrhea and chlamydia test will only detect infections in the vagina or penis. It will not pick up a rectal or oral infection. 
  •  You will swab your own body part. Gonorrhea and chlamydia testing can be done with a urine test, a vaginal swab, throat or rectal swab. You do not need to do both a urine and a vaginal swab, but a vaginal swab is more accurate. 
  • Gonorrhea can be transferred with oral sex so you may want to consider testing for oral gonorrhea, even if you have no symptoms. If you have had receptive anal sex you may need to do a rectal swab.   

Test at the right time

For sexually active students we recommend you test regularly and make this testing part of your regular health care. When you test is very important. Sometimes testing too early after sex can produce false negative results. For more information about when to test, watch this video.

Time needed for STIs to show up in test results
STI Time needed to show up in test results
Chlamydia 7–21 days
Gonorrhea 1–14 days
Hepatitis C 2–26 weeks
HIV 2–4 weeks
Syphilis 3 weeks–20 years (depending on type)

Understand the costs

For students with UC SHIP and no symptoms, testing has no out of pocket costs and can be done as often as you like. If you do have symptoms and see a medical provider, you will pay a 15% coinsurance. For students with CruzCare or who have waived UC SHIP, these tests cost money. Learn more about the costs and testing. Fees are posted to your student account. 

Most other insurances cover the costs for routine STI testing. If you need support around STI testing and off campus insurance, contact SHOP or the Insurance department at 831-502-8440.

Sexual and Reproductive Health Services at Student Health Outreach & Promotion (SHOP)

PrEP and PEP for HIV Prevention

PrEP (Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis) is a combination of two HIV medicines (tenofovir and emtricitabine). PrEP helps to prevent an HIV-negative person from getting HIV from a sexual or injection-drug-using partner who’s HIV positive. PrEP is an FDA approved, CDC recommended daily prevention pill for HIV-negative people who are vulnerable to getting HIV. Taken daily, PrEP is up to 99% effective at preventing HIV. (With typical use, effectiveness is 92-95%–this is when pills are being missed.) 

You might consider PrEP if: 

  • You don’t always use condoms when you have anal or vaginal sex.
  • You have been diagnosed with a STI in the last 6 months.
  • You are unsure of the HIV status of your partners.
  • You are sexually active with someone who is HIV+ who may or may not be on treatment.
  • You inject drugs or are sexually active with someone who injects drugs.
  • You are HIV negative and interested in PrEP!

To learn more view this PrEP information video.

What is PEP? (post-exposure prophylaxis)

PEP means taking medicine to prevent HIV after a possible exposure. PEP should be used only in emergency situations and must be started within 72 hours after a recent possible exposure to HIV. To learn more about when you may want to speak to a medical provider about PEP, view Let's Talk about PEP

How can I be prescribed PrEP or PEP?

If you have the student health insurance plan (UC SHIP), you can call 831-459-2500 to schedule an appointment at the UCSC Student Health Center. If you don't have UC SHIP, please contact your primary care provider through your private insurance plan for an appointment.

Any UCSC student can meet with a SHOP Health Educator to talk about an STI/HIV risk reduction plan. Please email: shop@ucsc.edu to schedule a one on one check-in.

PrEP does not protect from other sexually transmitted infections (STIs). If you or your provider think PrEP would be a good option for you, here is a guide to gather more information. View the chart below to read more about the differences between PrEP and PEP. PrEP vs PEP - What's the difference

Off-Campus STI Tests and Sexual Health Resources