Testing Options

What's the difference between anonymous and confidential testing?

HIV is the only STI that can be tested anonymously. Anonymous testing means that your name is not associated with the test or the results in any way. You are given a number or a code to identify yourself when receiving your test results. Health Services does not provide anonymous HIV testing but the resources below include anonymous HIV testing sites in the area. It's important to ask about the test site's policies before you get tested.

All other STI tests are confidential. Confidential STI testing means that your test results and any other information you discuss with your medical providers will be a part of your medical record. Information in your medical record is not a part of any other University record and cannot be shared with anyone (including parents, professors, deans, friends, or peer counselors) without your written authorization.

Health Services places a high value on confidentiality; nevertheless, all STI testing sites are required by law to report positive STI results to the RI Department of Health. This information will be used for statistical purposes and the Department of Health may contact you to help you in seeking any treatments you might need. The Department of Health cannot disclose your results, information, or even the fact that you have been tested to anyone else including your parents, friends, insurance agencies or school officials. If you have questions about STI testing, medical providers at Health Services will address any concerns you may have during your visit.

Why get tested?

Being tested allows you to take charge of your own health. If you test negative, you can continue to protect against future risks. Should you test positive, many test sites will help you access a variety of resources to enhance your physical, emotional and spiritual well being.

Some people get tested with the idea that if they test negative, they don't need to practice safer sex or safer shooting anymore. This is not true. If you test negative, you still need to protect yourself and your partners.

If you test positive for an STI, early medical intervention will allow you to take measures needed to maintain your health. Many STIs, such as chlamydia and gonorrhea, can be treated with antibiotics. Others, such as HPV and herpes, can be managed to decrease symptoms and reduce the risk of transmission. If you test positive for HIV, there are treatment possibilities to prolong your life and improve your overall health. Whatever your results, you can make changes that will make your life longer, healthier and happier.

back to top

How am I tested for STIs?

There are many different tests for each of the different STIs. There is not one test that will screen for all STIs. Some STIs are hard to test for if you do not have any symptoms. Some STIs can be tested through blood work, urine tests, or saliva tests. Other STIs can only be tested by culturing a sample of body fluid from the penis, vagina, rectum, or open sore. If you go in for testing, it is important to talk with your medical provider about which STIs you are at risk for to determine which tests you should receive. Sometimes weeks or months need to pass to give your body enough time to develop antibodies that will show up in a test.

Does my health insurance cover STI testing?

If you have insurance sponsored through Brown University:

  • Most STI screening will be covered, either as part of a routine GYN exam, or as part of a problem visit.
  • Correspondence from the Brown sponsored insurance company is generally directed to you, as the covered individual, at your University address.

If you have a private insurance (not Brown University sponsored):
Insurance varies widely. STI tests may not be covered. Many policies cover testing if there are symptoms of the STI. Some policies do not cover "screening" STI tests, which are:

  • Tests done as part of a routine GYN exam,
  • Tests done when the you may have been exposed to an STI but have no symptoms,
  • Tests done when you want to have tests for STIs "to be safe."

It will save you time if you contact your private insurance company before your visit to find out whether STI tests are covered.

HIV testing at Health Services is free for Brown students. Please call ahead (401.863-3953) for an appointment.

back to top

Will my parents find out I've been tested?

Be aware that private insurance companies sometimes notify the subscriber (often parents) as to what tests are done for covered individuals. Therefore, the subscriber may get a notice from the private insurance company that "student X had a Chlamydia test done on date X ," though results are generally not reported. If you are concerned, it is a good idea to contact your insurance company before you get tested to find out their billing policies.

You can opt for the lab to bill you directly at your University Box Number for STI tests. This avoids using your private insurance altogether. Be aware though, that tests can be costly out of pocket. For example, current prices for Gonorrhea and Chlamydia tests are in the vicinity of $100 each. Prices are subject to change by the lab with which Health Services contracts.

If you are still not sure about how you'd like to proceed with STI screening, you can always discuss this further at an appointment with a medical provider. Call 401.863-3953 for an appointment.

Where can I get tested?

Below is a listing of local STI testing sites, which tests they administer and whether the results are confidential or anonymous.

University Health Services 401.863-3953
13 Brown Street, Providence
All tests available. HIV testing is free. Testing fee is charged for other STI tests. Confidential. Available only to Brown students. Testing is available by appointment. HIV tests are available on a walk-in basis on weekdays between 10am and 4pm, when classes are in session.

Planned Parenthood of Southern New England 401.421-9620
111 Point Street, Providence
All tests available. Testing fee is charged. Confidential.

AIDS Care Ocean State 401.781-0665 or 640-5212
557 Broad Street, Providence
HIV tests only. Free. Anonymous or confidential.

AIDS Project Rhode Island 401.207-8377
404 Wickenden Street, Providence
HIV testing only. Free. Anonymous.

Miriam Hospital Immunology Department 401.793-4715
1125 North Main Street, Providence
HIV and other STI testing. Free. Anonymous testing available.

Other Health Care Settings
STI testing is now offered routinely during family planning visits, prenatal visits, and in drug treatment clinics throughout Rhode Island. STI testing can be done as part of a standard physical exam, if requested. There is often a charge for the test in these settings. Specialized sites are typically more experienced with STI related issues.

back to top

Resources & links

Brown University Health Services 401.863-3953   
Call if you have questions about whether or not you should get tested, if you have questions about STIs, or if you want to make an appointment to be tested.

AIDS Project RI (APRI)  401.831-5522
Call to ask questions about HIV/AIDS and other STIs, to be connected with local AIDS support resources, or to find out about volunteer opportunities and APRI events.

National AIDS/STD Hotline
Call to speak with health specialists about the transmission, prevention, and treatment for infections such as gonorrhea, chlamydia, HPV/genital warts, herpes, HIV and others. You can also ask to receive free information about STIs and prevention methods.

  • English: 1-800-342-2437 or 1-800-227-8922, 7 days a week, 24 hours a day
  • Español: 1-800-344-7432, 7 dias/semana, 8:00am to 2:00am
  • TDD: 1-800-243-7889, Monday through Friday, 10:00am to 10:00pm

back to top

Disclaimer: BWell Health Promiotion is part of Health Services at Brown University. Health Promotion maintains this site as a resource for Brown students. This site is not intended to replace consultation with your medical providers. No site can replace real conversation. Health Promotion offers no endorsement of and assumes no liability for the currency, accuracy, or availability of the information on the sites we link to or the care provided by the resources listed. Health Services staff are available to treat and give medical advice to Brown University students only. If you are not a Brown student, but are in need of medical assistance please call your own health care provider or in case of an emergency, dial 911. Please contact us if you have comments, questions or suggestions.