RAPID sexual health checks are back on campus, baby.
Having a sexual health check can be daunting, especially if you have never had one before or are being tested in an unfamiliar environment.
I went along to the Kelvin Grove Medical Centre on Wednesday morning to try out the RAPID sexual health check, accompanied by QUT Student Guild Clubs and Societies Officer, Zoe Davidson. This initiative has been organised by the Guild, who provide the space for RAPID to operate out of the campus medical centres once a week.
Zoe and I started by walking down the KG to find the medical centre – which neither of us had visited before. It’s located on level 2 of U-Block (across the road from Woolworths). Once we found level 2, we had to walk through a waiting room and follow the signs to the medical centre reception, and the staff directed us to some seats to wait for our RAPID tester.
We walked in without an appointment at about 11:00 am and our tester was ready for me to come into the testing room just a few minutes after we sat down in the waiting area.
My tester was super friendly and welcoming, and I felt very comfortable with them. I was asked about the results of my last STI test, which I happened to have handy on my phone. Unlike me, Zoe didn’t have the details of her last test handy, and this was ok too!
My tester asked me to fill out and sign some super quick forms, and explained that they didn’t need my Medicare card or even any ID. I could have chosen to be fully anonymous, except for providing my phone number to get the results.
Zoe and I were both offered each of the four tests that RAPID conducts: HIV, syphilis, chlamydia, and gonorrhoea.
The HIV and syphilis tests were done by drawing a (really) tiny bit of blood from my finger and using the blood to test on a strip that looks super similar to a COVID test strip. My tester set a timer to check my results in twenty minutes and we got started on the next part of the tests.
The chlamydia and gonorrhoea tests were next. These tests were done using a sample of my urine, a swab of the back of my throat, and a swab of my anal cavity. My tester explained that “three-site” testing is a more comprehensive test than just urine testing, but it is absolutely not compulsory.
We had full control over which tests we felt comfortable doing, and we collected the samples ourselves, in private.
I chose to do the urine collection as well as the swabs because I learnt that the close proximity between the vagina and anus can make a person susceptible to an STI in their anus without ever having anal sex. Something else I didn’t know – throat swabs can be important because STI infections in the throat can often present as a sore throat.
This might surprise you, but in the end, I actually found the anal cavity swab easier to do than the throat swab! My tester told me I could run the anal cavity swab under some water first to make things easier, which I did. Again, I was surprised by how easy and relatively comfortable this was.
The throat swab however, was probably the most uncomfortable test of the whole process. I found it hard to get a decent swab without gagging on the swab, and I was honestly grateful no-one else was in the bathroom at the time to hear me sounding like a dying cat. Despite the dying cat noises, this was relatively un-embarrassing to me and in my opinion worth it for the certainty of getting an STI test result. If you think this would make you too uncomfortable, however, you can absolutely decline any of the swabs or tests.
I was able to get my HIV and syphilis test results on the spot, as the timer for when the results would be ready went off soon after I came back from collecting my urine and swab samples.
I had to wait a little longer for my chlamydia and gonorrhoea results, which I received as a text message in the early evening. I actually got an text message asking me to call the clinic first, which I (surprisingly) calmly accepted as a sign I had an STI before another message came through apologising for the mistake.
My tester explained to me earlier that if the results had been positive, I would receive a phone call and RAPID would talk me through next steps, so I actually felt pretty chill about it all even when that first accidental message came through.
Having my first on-campus sexual health check was super easy, quick and stress-free. It took about 35 minutes from when I walked in to when I was done, and is definitely something you could squeeze in between classes if RAPID facilitators aren’t too busy on the day. My testing buddy Zoe also said she would ‘highly recommend’ the experience to students regardless of their sexual history.
The main question I was curious about before getting the test (apart from what exactly it would involve) was: what is the difference between having a RAPID test on campus and just getting a test done at my GP?
From my experience, I’d say the drawcards of having a RAPID test on campus are:
- No need to make an appointment
- It’s free!
- You don’t even need to provide a Medicare card or ID
- You can be completely anonymous if you choose
- The testers are super friendly and lovely to deal with
RAPID tests on campus provide a super accessible way for students to take care of their sexual health, and I hope the QUT Student Guild continues to facilitate their operation on campus next year – we’ll keep you updated!
Want to get tested too?
You can get tested on Wednesday 19th October (KG Medical Centre) and Wednesday 26th October (GP Medical Centre).
Walk in without an appointment any time between 9:30 am – 2:00 pm, just let the reception staff know you are there for a ‘RAPID sexual health check’.
Find information about where to locate the campus medical centres here.