I Think I Have an STD. What Can I Do?

This is a list of questions you may have about STDs. The questions are about how it feels to have an STD, how you can get and give an STD, where to get tested, and what it will be like to see the doctor. Each question has an answer that can help you decide the best way to take care of your health. You can read each question in order, or skip around if you see a question that is important to you.  

Remember, if you want to talk to someone, you can always call
AIDS Action Committee HIV/STD hotline (800-235-2331) or
The Massachusetts Department of Public Health’s STD information line (617-983-6999).

How Do I Know If I Have an STD?

How Do I Find a Doctor?

What Should I Expect When I see My Doctor?

What Happens After I’ve Been Tested?

How Will I Pay For My STD Care?

How Do I Know If I Have an STD?

I had sex with someone who has a sexually transmitted disease (STD), but I feel fine. Do I still need to go to the doctor?

Yes. Some STDs don’t have symptoms that you can see or feel, but can still be serious.. Your health care provider can run some easy tests to see if you have an STD.

I had symptoms that might have been an STD, but they went away. Should I still see a doctor?

Yes. Most STDs don’t go away on their own, even if the symptoms disappear. You need to see a health care provider, get tested, and get treated.

What happens if I have an STD and I don't see my doctor?

For some STDs, the longer you wait, the more likely it is that the STD will cause health problems like pain and infections in other parts of your body. Some STDs can make it harder for women to get pregnant. The good news is most STDs can be treated, and your health care provider can help.   

If I have an STD, could I give it to people I have sex with?

Yes. Most STDs are very contagious (easy to get, easy to give). If you think you have an STD, you should not have sex with anyone until you get tested and treated.

How Do I Find a Doctor?

I don’t have a doctor. How do I find one?

There are lots of ways you can find a health care provider and get into care quickly.

I’m under 18, can I see a doctor on my own?

Yes.   In Massachusetts, teens who think they might have an STD can get their own care and have it be confidential.  Confidential means that the health care provider won’t tell anyone else about your visit unless you say it’s ok for them to do so. 

What should I expect when I see my doctor?:

When I call my doctor’s office, how do I get an appointment for an STD check-up?

You can call and say you want to get tested for STDs. If you are not comfortable asking for an STD test say “I need an appointment today related to an urgent but personal medical issue.”

I think I have an STD and I can’t get an appointment with my doctor until next week. What should I do?

Most health care providers’ offices have appointments for the same day you call. Ask for a “sick visit” or “urgent care visit.”  If you cannot get an appointment the same day, ask to speak to a nurse and tell them you need to be seen that day to get an STD check-up.

I’m afraid to bring up the subject of STDs with my doctor. How should I ask?

Your health care provider has probably done many STD check-ups with all types of patients. You can tell your provider that you had sex with someone who has an STD and now you would like to get tested, or that you started a new relationship and you want to be tested for STDs

I don’t want to go to my regular doctor for an STD check-up. What other options do I have?
If you do not want to see your own health care provider for STD care you can also get a test at any of the sites listed on: 
Or you can call the Massachusetts HIV/STD Hotline at 800-235-2331 to have a counselor help you find a testing site near you.

What questions will my doctor ask me?

Your health care provider may ask you personal questions, like: How many people have you had sex with? How many were male and female? What type of sex did you have? Try to answer as truthfully as you can.  When you are honest with your provider about how many people you have sex with and the different ways you have sex, they can make better decisions about your care.  

What kind of STD tests will my doctor give me?

There are different types of tests for STDs.  Some involve urine (peeing into a cup), and others use swabs from your penis, vagina, anus or throat.  Others may require a blood test.

Once I have been tested what happens?

Make sure your health care provider has your phone number so they can reach you to give you your results. You can let your doctor know if it is okay to leave a message or not. If you prefer, you can also call them to get your results.

Your health care provider may treat you with medicines at the same time as the visit. Other times they will wait for your test results.

If the provider prescribes any medicine, take it as exactly directed, even if the symptoms go away.

I only want an HIV test. What should I do?

If you just want an HIV test you can go here or talk to your health care provider. If you are think you might have been exposed to HIV during sex, you should also get tested for other STDs.

What happens after I’ve been tested?:

How long before I know my STD results?

It could be between 3 – 14 days to get your results, depending on where you got tested. .

If the test is positive will I have to tell the person I had sex with that I have an STD?

There is no law in Massachusetts that says that you have to tell your sex partner(s) if you have an STD. But letting your partners know they may have been exposed to an STD means they can get tested and treated too, which can help them to stay healthy. You could also get the infection again if you have sex with a partner who hasn’t been treated.

If you need help telling past or current partners about an STD there are specialists at the Massachusetts Department of Public Health who can help.  You can call (617) 983-6951 to speak with someone.

My STD results came back positive. What do I do now?

  • Take your medication.
  • Tell the people you had sex with to get an STD check-up and treatment, or call a health educator at the MA Department of Public Health at (617) 983-6951.  You can get the STD again if the people you have sex with are not treated.
  • Use condoms with all your partners and get an STD check-up at least once a year, or anytime your have symptoms

How will I pay for my STD care?:

I don’t have health insurance. Where can I get some?

You can go to the Mass Health Connector website: http://www.mahealthconnector.org/portal/site/connector/.  You can also ask to speak to the Patient’s Benefits Specialist when you call to make your appointment. They can help you get insurance.

Will my visit and tests be reported to my insurance?

Yes. Health care providers will bill the STD tests and treatment costs to your health insurance carrier. If you have concerns about confidentiality, talk to your health care provider.

If I want to pay out of pocket how much will it cost?

It depends. Some providers charge on a sliding fee scale (which means they lower the cost depending on your income.)  When you make an appointment ask how much it will cost.

Free testing for HIV and STDs is available at some clinics in Massachusetts.  Click here for a listing of the clinics or call the Massachusetts HIV/STD Hotline at 800-235-2331 to have a counsleor find you a testing site in your area.