Sexually Transmitted Infections (STI) Testing
Last reviewed: 9/12/2023
There are medical tests for most STIs, but not all of the tests are reliable. Often, a physical examination, in combination with diagnostic screening tools such as Pap smears, is needed to make an accurate diagnosis. Columbia Health believes that high-quality care for STIs also includes education about typical symptoms, the reliability of the test, treatment options, and STI transmission.
Guidance for testing for HIV and other STIs and general education related to sexual health matters are offered through Gay Health Advocacy Project (GHAP), a part of Alice! Health Promotion. Connect with GHAP at Sexual and Reproductive Health drop-in or email [email protected] to request an appointment with an advocate.
If you think you have been sexually assaulted, the Sexual Violence Response team can provide resources for confidential STI testing.
HIV testing at Columbia Health
Available at no additional cost for all students, faculty, and staff on the Morningside/Manhattanville campus.
All other STI tests
Students on the Columbia Student Health Insurance Plan pay no additional cost for STI tests performed with a Columbia Health provider.
Students on an alternate health insurance plan will be billed to their insurance plan. Students may speak with a GHAP advocate about other options, including free testing in sites around New York City.
All services are provided in a confidential environment that respects privacy.
How do I get tested for sexually transmitted infections (STIs)?
- Are not currently experiencing STI symptoms
- Have not had sex with a partner that currently has an STI
- Have not been tested recently (within the past 4 to 8 weeks)
- Do not need of any additional services (e.g., birth control, Post-Exposure Prophylaxis (PEP), Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis, treatment for HIV or syphilis)
You may be eligible for Express Collect STI testing.
Overview of the Express Collect process
Attend Sexual and Reproductive Health drop-in hours to meet with an advocate who will help you assess your risk and order the appropriate STI screening tests. They will connect you to the Medical Services lab for specimen collection, which could include a urine specimen, throat swab, rectal swab, and/or blood draw depending on the testing ordered.
You will receive results via secure message on the Patient Portal.
If you are not eligible for Express Collect or have other urgent sexual or reproductive health needs (for example PeP, PrEP, emergency contraception), an advocate will connect you to the appropriate resources.
Some important recommendations to prevent STIs include:
- Know your sexual partner(s). Before you become intimate, have a discussion about STIs, sexual history (yours and your partners), and be honest.
- Use a condom.
- If you or your partner think you might have symptoms of an STI, make an appointment to see a Medical Services provider.
- Know which sexual practices put you at greater risk of STIs.
- Recognize that substance use increases risk of STIs.
Free Condoms and Lube
The map below provides an overview of locations at Columbia where safer sex supplies can be found. The map is updated on a regular basis.
Not every location has the same options. Check the descriptions for an overview of what’s available at each location. If you can't find what you’re looking for or to suggest a location, email [email protected].