If you have had unprotected sex (anal, vaginal or oral) you may be at risk for sexually transmitted infections, including HIV. Some sexually transmitted infections (like herpes, HPV, and Syphilis) can be spread by skin to skin contact, even when condoms or dental dams are used. If you have shared injection drug equipment (needles, syringes, cotton, cookers, tourniquets, etc.) to use any drug, you are at risk for HIV and Hepatitis C.
Most people infected with HIV or Hepatitis C do not have any signs or symptoms until many years after infection. Also, 50% or more of the people infected with other sexually transmitted infections have no signs or symptoms of infection.
Even though they do not have signs or symptoms, people infected with HIV, other sexually transmitted infections or Hepatitis can pass the infection to others.
Walk-in HIV testing is available in our Reading office on Tuesdays from 4pm-7pm and Fridays from 9am-4pm.
Walk-in STI screening services are available at our Reading office on Mondays.
- These walk-in slots fill quickly so we recommend you plan to be at our office by 9am if you want to be seen on a Monday
STI screening will include testing for syphilis, gonorrhea, Chlamydia and HIV. You will also be assessed for herpes, and genital warts (HPV); additionally, female patients are assessed for vaginitis.
Appointments for HIV and STI Testing Available:
To schedule an appointment at our Reading office call (610) 375-6523.
- Tuesdays 11am-7pm
- Thursdays 9am-3pm
To schedule an appointment at our Pottsville office call (570) 622-3980
- Tuesdays 9am-5pm
- Wednesdays 9am-6pm
For females, the physical exam includes a vaginal exam and swab, requiring the use of a speculum.
For males, the physical exam is a totally external. For both males and females, the physical exam includes assessment of the mouth, throat, and lymph glands, anus and genitalia for signs or symptoms of infection.
All patients must provide a blood sample for syphilis testing (and HIV testing if chosen). Males are required to provide a urine sample for Chlamydia and gonorrhea testing (for females, the vaginal swab is used to test for Chlamydia and gonorrhea).
PLEASE NOTE: Herpes and HPV (i.e. genital warts) are assessed for in the physical exam, not by actual testing in our clinic. If you are not symptomatic for herpes or HPV, but believe that you might be infected with either of these viruses, please talk to our clinician about your concerns.
You will be given an appointment to return in one week for your test.
If your screening indicates that you are positive for syphilis, Chlamydia, gonorrhea, herpes, HPV, or a form of vaginitis, treatment will be provided at our clinic free of charge. Ongoing treatment options for herpes or HPV are discussed on a case by case basis. If you test positive for HIV, the Prevention Specialist can link you to the available care and supportive services in your community.
Our Prevention Specialist can provide you with a menu of prevention options to help you think about the things you can do to remain HIV/STD free.
Hepatitis A and B, as well as HPV (Human Papillomavirus – the most common sexually transmitted virus in the US) can be prevented with a vaccine.
If you are sexually active and have not been vaccinated for Hepatitis A and B we encourage you to talk to your health care provider or our STD clinician.
The HPV vaccine is most effective if you have it prior to becoming sexually active. However, this vaccine may be given up to age 26 for females and up to age 21 for males.
What are STDs? “STD” stands for “Sexually Transmitted Disease.” Sometimes this is also abbreviated as “STI,” which stand for “Sexually Transmitted Infection.”
How are STDs spread? STDs can be spread through oral, anal and/or vaginal sexual activity. Some STDs can be transmitted through skin to skin contact. This means the infection can be transmitted without any sexual penetration and without the presence of sexual fluids.
How many STDs are there? Currently there are more than 26 STDs that have been identified. About half (13) of these are fairly common.
Who should be tested for STDs? Anyone who has/had: more than one sexual partner, a partner who had more than one sexual partner, engaged in sexual activity without knowing the sexual history of a partner, or had symptoms of an STD should consider being screened for STDs.
What are the symptoms of STDs? The most common symptoms of STDs include: discharge, burning or pain when urinating, and itching around the genitals. Other symptoms may include sores or blisters on the genitals. If you have any of these symptoms, it would be a good idea to contact your medical provider, or our STD Clinic, to schedule an STD screening.
If I don’t have any of these symptoms, should I still be concerned? Often, people who are infected with STDs have no signs or symptoms of infection. If you have an STD, even if you have no signs or symptoms, you can still pass it on to your sex partner(s). Also, left untreated, STDs can lead to more serious health problems including: sterility, infertility, organ damage and death.
If I had some of these symptoms, but they went away, should I still be concerned? STDs do not go away unless they are treated. If you had symptoms in the past, and were never treated, it would be a good idea to talk with your medical provider, or contact our STD clinic.
If my annual Pap test is negative, should I still be concerned? The Pap test is looking for changes in the cervix that may be the result of being infected with HPV. The Pap test will not tell you if you are infected with other STDs.
Can STDs be cured? STDs that are caused by bacteria, protozoa, fungi and parasites can be treated and cured. STDs that are caused by viruses can be treated, but usually cannot be cured. This means there is medicine that can control the virus and help make the symptoms go away, but it does not make the virus go away. Because the medicine does not make the virus go away, the symptoms may come back again. It also means a person who has the virus can still pass it on to their sex partner(s).
Where can I be tested for STDs? You can contact our STD Clinic (or any state funded site) to schedule a free STD screening. You can also contact your medical provider to ask for an appointment to be tested for STDs.
How can I prevent STD infections? Abstinence (choosing to not have sex) is the 100% effective method of preventing STD infection.
Mutual monogamy (having only one sex partner, who is not infected, and who is only having sex with you) is the next best method of STD prevention.
If neither of these choices are realistic for you, you may want to contact our Prevention Services Department to discuss strategies for reducing your risk of STD infection.
What is HIV? “HIV” stands for “Human Immunodeficiency Virus.” It is a virus that weakens the human immune system. When the immune system is weakened, it is hard for a person to fight off infections. Untreated, HIV leads to AIDS.
How is HIV spread? HIV can be spread by HIV infected blood, semen, vaginal fluid, or breast milk. Today, in the United States, HIV is usually spread through: unprotected sex (oral, anal, vaginal) and/or the sharing of drug injection equipment (needles, syringes, cookers, cotton, tourniquets).
What are the symptoms of HIV infection? Most people get flu-like symptoms in the first two weeks after they are infected with HIV. But, most people do not think of these symptoms as a sign of HIV infection. Instead, they just think they have the flu.
After the first two weeks, the flu-like symptoms go away and most people don’t have any other symptoms for 10 or more years. This is why a lot of people do not know they are infected with HIV.
When people do not know they are infected with HIV, they can also spread HIV without knowing it. That is why it is important for everyone who may be at risk for HIV to be tested for HIV.
How will I know if I am infected with HIV? The only way to know for sure if you are infected with HIV is to be tested.
Who should be tested for HIV? Everyone who has had unprotected sex (anal, vaginal or oral) or shared any drug injection equipment (needles, syringes, cotton, cookers, tourniquets, etc.) should think about being tested for HIV.
If you are not sure if you should be tested for HIV, you can take an anonymous online assessment to help you decide: Find out if you are at risk.
Where can I be tested for HIV? You can come to Co-County Wellness Services, or find free HIV testing options near you. You can also talk to your medical provider about being tested for HIV.
How reliable is the HIV test? The HIV test is more than 99% accurate.
How can I prevent HIV infections?
- Abstinence – choosing to not have sex and not to use drugs/alcohol – is the only 100% effective way to prevent HIV infection.
- Mutual monogamy – having only one sex partner, who is not infected, and who is only having sex with you – is the next best method of preventing the HIV infection through sex.
- Not sharing drug injection equipment is the next best method of preventing HIV infection through injection drugs.
If these choices are not realistic for you, you may want to talk with one of our Prevention Specialists about things you can do to lower your risk for HIV infection.
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Co-County Wellness Services improves public health through service, education, and advocacy in the PA counties of Berks and Schuylkill. We provide free case case management, HIV medication education; HIV and STD Counseling and Testing; prevention interventions and lead a teen pregnancy prevention initiative Berks Teens Matter.
Thank you for considering a donation to Co-County Wellness Services, a community based 501(c)3 not-for-profit organization. Your financial donation is tax deductible and it enables CCWS to continue providing service, education, and advocacy for the public health.