The Happy Trail

Testing services on campus now free

As the school year picks up steam, things tend to get hotter and heavier. Have you thought about what you or your partner might be carrying around with you besides textbooks?

STDs (or STIs, as the two are interchangeable) are real and alive on college campuses. Just last year, there were eleven reported cases of chlamydia at Puget Sound according to the Center for Health and Wellness (CHWS).

Getting and STD test is simple and can save you anxiety and, quite possibly, your life.

While there is no single test that covers all STDs, CHWS is able to test for chlamydia, HPV (genital warts), herpes, gonorrhea, HIV, syphilis, and all types of hepatitis.

If your biological sex is female, CHWS has free gonorrhea/chlamydia test packages that can be picked up at their offices on the second floor of Wheelock Student Center. These tests are self-administered and come with a postage-paid return envelope.

CHWS Health Educator, Colleen Carette, offers that, “if you can put in a tampon, then you can do this test”. Puget Sound has partnered with

The Pierce County Health Department in order to establish the program. Puget Sound is the first school in Washington to have such a program, with another site opening at Tacoma Community College this spring.

The benefits of getting an STD test done on campus include the convenience of an on-campus location, as well as a relatively low cost. The twenty-dollar visitation fee is required when getting tested at CHWS. The cost of the visit and the testing, however, can be submitted to your insurance company and, under the Affordable Health Act, should be completely covered.

In addition, there are also off-campus options available to students. Community Health Care Downtown Clinic and The Neighborhood Clinic both offer their services on a sliding scale basis, with proof of income. There is a Planned Parenthood office in Tacoma, where students are able to get access to STD testing for both men and women on a sliding scale basis depending on your financial status.

STDs can be a touchy subject both emotionally and economically. If you think you may be at risk of an infection, it can be difficult to actually take action. For some, it is the stigma of being perceived as dirty or promiscuous.

However, it’s important to remembrr that the benefits of getting tested outweigh the risk of embarrassment. All testing centers (CHWS included) provide a judgement-free atmosphere for those who come to get tested. They would rather see you getting the care you need, so you have nothing to worry about!

A list of low-cost clinics in the Tacoma area is available on the CHWS page of the Puget Sound website. Contact the CHWS office to make an appointment if you or someone you know may be at risk: