How Can I Find My Local Free STD Clinic?

People in waiting room
Image Source/Photodisc

It doesn't matter whether you need STD testing, treatment, or even just screening before starting a new relationship.  A free STD clinic can be a great place to seek affordable care. Fortunately, locating a free STD clinic near you doesn't have to be hard. Just follow a few simple steps.

Find Your Clinic

Most free STD clinics are run by your local town or county health department. Often, the simplest way to find free STD testing near you is to simply call the health department. You could also go to their web page to see where the STD clinic is located. The health department should be able to tell you if there's a free STD clinic in your town, how to get there, and what the hours are.

Don't know how to locate your local health department? An Internet search engine may be your friend. Search for either your town's name, or the county and state, and the phrase "STD clinic." That will probably bring up the contact information for your local free STD clinic in no time flat.

The web can help you in other ways. ​Get Tested is a government-sponsored web page that allows you to search for HIV testing locations by zip code. Not all places that offer HIV testing are free STD clinics. However, this site could be a good place to start looking for a local clinic. That's particularly true if you can't find one another way.

Not every town runs their own STD clinic. Fortunately, health department clinics aren't the only free clinics around. Local public hospitals and teaching hospitals may also run low-cost or free STD clinics that offer both testing and treatment. If you live or work near a convenient hospital, you can call and ask if they offer these services. However, we do not recommend going through the Emergency Room unless you are actually having an emergency. Not only will you potentially have a long wait, you may not get a doctor who knows as much about STD testing. Urgent care sites are much better options than the emergency room if you can't find a clinic. They can generally get you in the same day, and the cost is lower for both you and the clinic. 

There are other free and low-cost STD testing options as well. For those people who live in sexually diverse communities, gay and lesbian community centers and healthcare organizations are good options. They often sponsor free STD clinics or offer low-cost testing and treatment. There is also a privately run free clinic locator.

Finally, there is Planned Parenthood. Planned Parenthood is not a free STD clinic. However, their clinics often do offer STD testing and treatment at low-cost. Fees are usually scaled according to patient income. Most offices also accept health insurance. Remember, Planned Parenthood isn't just for women. They provide treatment to individuals of both sexes. Sexual health is part of their mandate.

If you're planning on going to Planned Parenthood for STD treatment, call first to make an appointment. Then, while you're on the phone, ask what documents you need for income verification. If you're looking for sliding scale services, you'll want to be prepared when you arrive for your appointment. You don't want to end up paying more than you can afford.

What About Online STD Testing? 

If you don't want to go to a local free clinic, online testing is an option. However, that can have its own pitfalls. Here is some information about choosing the right option for online testing.

Remember, you can also get tested for STDs at your regular doctor's office. Some people may prefer not to do so for privacy reasons, but it's often the easiest and most affordable option.