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Chaffee County Public Health (CCPH) is expanding its clinical services to include sexually transmitted infection (STI) testing. By appointment, testing will be available  at the Touber Building, 448 East First St. in Salida from 1:00 p.m. to 2:00 p.m. on Wednesdays beginning March 29. Anyone interested in making an appointment should call 719-539-4510.

“Getting tested for STIs should never be shameful or embarrassing. STIs are extremely common and most individuals will get an STI at some point in their life. For most STIs, if they are discovered and treated quickly, there are typically no negative health outcomes. For more significant infections like HIV or Hepatitis C, getting tested and treated early means better health outcomes and quality of life,” says CCPH nurse Tanya Wait. “We would like getting tested for STIs to be as normal as a dentist appointment or a skin check with a dermatologist. We hope that by offering this free service more people will take this important step in their health.”

The testing is free to everyone and insurance information will not be collected. Testing results are confidential and clients will be provided assistance with follow-up care if necessary.

The tests that will be available include: gonorrhea and chlamydia collected by urine sample, rapid syphilis, HIV, and Hepatitis C collected by a finger prick, and confirmatory syphilis, HIV, and Hepatitis C, collected by a blood draw.

Any individual who tests positive for these infections will be provided with free or low cost opportunities for treatment and disease management assistance. CCPH will also offer urine pregnancy testing at no cost. The following is the recommended testing schedule for each type of infection:

  • Gonorrhea and chlamydia: Get tested once a year, with each new partner, or if you have a known exposure.
  • Syphilis: Get tested once a year if you are sexually active, have a partner who tested positive, are a man who has sex with men, have HIV or are taking PrEP for HIV. If you are pregnant you should also get tested for syphilis since it can be very dangerous for babies.
  • HIV: Everyone between the ages of 13 and 64 should get tested once as part of their routine healthcare. Test more  frequently if you are a man who has sex with men, are exposed to someone with HIV, you share needles or other drug equipment, or you have another STI.
  • Hepatitis C: Everyone 18 or older should get tested once as part of their routine healthcare. Test more frequently if you are pregnant, inject drugs, have HIV, have abnormal liver tests or liver disease, are on hemodialysis, received blood or organs before July 1992, received clotting factor concentrates before 1987, have been exposed to blood from someone who has Hepatitis C, or were born to a mother with Hepatitis C.

CCPH will assess demand and if necessary, add on additional days and times. Call 719- 539-4510 to make an appointment for STI testing.

Free STI testing is also available through the Chaffee Community Clinic, which operates out of the Salida United Methodist Church parking lot on Mondays from 12:00 noon to 4:00 p.m. and out of the Buena Vista Community Center on Tuesdays from 1:00 p.m. to 4:00 p.m. No appointment is needed at the Chaffee Community Clinic.