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Why doesn’t College of Charleston offer free STI testing?

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College of Charleston

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Why doesn’t College of Charleston offer free STI testing?

The College cares less about your sexual health than you think

10.10.17

Young people ages 15-24 are especially at risk for developing sexually transmitted diseases, or STIs, yet Student Health Services does not offer free STI testing. It would be nice to think that STIs are not that prevalent, but the unfortunate truth is that STIs are way more common than we’d like to be think they are.

Of the 20 million new STI diagnoses in the US each year, 50 percent of them belong to young Americans between the ages of 15 through 24.


Taking care of your sexual health is not as cheap or as accessible as many College of Charleston students believe. To get a Chlamydia or Gonorrhea test, Student Health Services charges $99. An HIV test comes attached with an $80 fee. A Syphilis test is $26, and a Herpes test can range any where from $85-$125. Your insurance may cover some of the cost, but many students on financial aid cannot afford health insurance. Most students depend on student health services and falsely assume these services are included in their tuition. You may think that your sexual health is priceless, but at the College of Charleston, this doesn’t seem to be the case.

Offering free STI testing to students is not a foreign concept. In fact, many other colleges that prioritize student health, such as Dickinson College and the University of New Mexico, have a program called Testing Tuesdays, during which students have access to free STI testing each Tuesday. This encourages students to be proactive about their sexual health and raises awareness about the importance of STI testing.

If you are sexually active, you should get tested for chlamydia, gonorrhea, and HIV once a year. However, if you have unprotected oral, vaginal, or anal sex, you need to get tested immediately - even if you have not noticed any symptoms. It is important to catch an STI in its early stages to treat it successfully, and many STIs are asymptomatic in the early stages of infection. If a student gets infected with an STI, it can spread throughout campus like wildfire.

There are alternative ways to get tested for STIs, but none of them are as convenient as Student Health Services. The Lowcountry Aids Services offers free HIV testing 8:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m., Monday through Thursday, with no appointment needed. They also offer free condoms and other HIV related services. They are located at 3547 Meeting Street Road, Charleston, South Carolina. This is about a ten minute drive from campus.

Another way to access STI services is through Planned Parenthood, located on 200 Rutledge Ave. Planned Parenthood is only a sixteen-minute walk from the heart of campus. Unfortunately, they are so underfunded that they are only open three days a week. At this clinic, some STI testing and treatment may covered by insurance. I would recommend calling ahead of time to double check that your insurance covers whatever service you are looking for. Keep in mind that Planned Parenthood offers other important services, such as abortion referrals, birth control, pregnancy tests, and more. Planned Parenthood is a great resource for students with Medicaid because they accept this form of insurance, unlike many other doctors.

For more information on STD testing and sexual health:

Lowcountry Aids Services
3547 Meeting Street Road, Charleston, SC, 29405
877-874-0230
information@aids-services.com

Planned Parenthood
200 Rutledge Ave, Charleston, SC, 29403
843-628-4380