A service provided by the BC Centre for Disease Control



Answered Questions

In the years since SmartSexResource launched, we have developed a library of questions asked by you, and answered by our expert sexual health nurses.

Our answered questions library cover a broad range of sexual health topics and common questions we hear at our clinics.

STI Testing (297)

How long does it take for a std test

Hi thanks for your question. Usually an STD test can take about 20 minutes to half an hour depending on the person, their concerns and the tests being done. To find out more about STI testing please see https://smartsexresource.com/get-tested/tests-and-exams and to find a clinic near you please see https://smartsexresource.com/get-tested/clinic-finder  Let us know if this does not answer your question or if you have any more questions or concerns. Health Nurse

Hello, I have a question regarding HIV – 1 RNA PCR NAAT test taken here in British Columbia. Is this test quantitative or qualitative? What is the test’s threshold of copies/mL?Thanks

Hi, thanks for your question. The initial HIV RNA Naat is a pooled Naat test and detects if there is any HIV virus present and result comes back as reactive/ positive/ virus detected or non reactive/negative/ no virus detected. If the HIV RNA pooled Naat is positive, then there is an individual test done to determine the amount or level of HIV virus in the blood and this is called a viral load. The minimum level of copies reported is 40. The laboratory that does this testing is at ST Paul’s Hospital in Vancouver, BC. Let us know if this does not answer your question or if you have any more questions or concerns.

Health Nurse

I recieved a blow job I was not wearing a condom. What are and symptoms of a sti ?

Hi, thanks for your question. It can be hard to tell if you have a sexually transmitted infection (STI). Many STIs do not always show symptoms. Often, people who pass an STI to a sexual partner do not know that they have an infection. The only way to know whether or not you have an STI is to get tested.

Symptoms of an STI may include:

Discharge from penis
Changes in vaginal discharge
Bumps, sores or a rash on the genital area (penis, vagina or anus)
Blood in the urine
Burning or unusual feeling when urinating
Pain in the pelvis or testicles
Pain during sexual activity and intercourse
If you or your sexual partners have any of these symptoms, it is important to see a health care provider. Getting tested for STIs is confidential, easy, and usually free. If you have symptoms or want to do testing, you can find an STI clinic near you by going to https://smartsexresource.com/get-tested/clinic-finder. Let us know if this does not answer your question or if you have any more questions or concerns. Health Nurse


What are chances of someone having hiv and not showing up on the tests even after 3 months? I have tested 5 times in past 4 months last one being at 17 weeks which all came back negative but I still have a mild sore throat on and off and my tounge gets really white when I wake up in the morning, also have few rashes on my shoulders and heart racing.

Hi, thanks for your questions. It sounds like you have been really worried about HIV and have done many tests. If your HIV test at 17 weeks post exposure was negative, then this is considered to be accurate to say you do not have HIV. The symptom you describe of heart racing is not a HIV symptom and can be caused by many things such as exercise and anxiety as well as more serious conditions like thyroid problems and smoke inhalation. You might consider  discussing your symptoms with a doctor who can listen to your heart and order any testing of your heart that you may need. Let us know if this does not answer your question or if you have any more questions or concerns.

Health Nurse

Hi, I had a protected exposure 3 months ago with a sex worker of unknown status – assumed positive. I have done 4 tests since then all come back negative, last two tests were 8 weeks and 12 weeks (83 days to be exact) after the exposure the index values were 0.23 and 0.62 respectively, now I am a bit worried about the last test as it is significantly higher than the test before. I can’t find a clear explanation on what this numbers mean and why they vary, can I consider my results conclusive and move on?

Hi and thanks for question.

I am afraid that I do now know what you are referring to when you reference index values.

Here in BC, STI results are generally reported to clients and clinicians as positive or negative, reactive or nonreactive, or in the case of syphilis they may attach reference numbers to the results.

Sometimes hepatitis results may indicate values, but these tests are not generally done as part of routine STI screening.

For routine STIs (gonorrhea, chlamydia, syphilis and HIV) testing 3 months after the exposure would cover all window periods (time from exposure to when a test may be able to pick up a positive result).

If the person that tested you has received the results and they are not calling you back in for treatment or for further follow up, you can consider your results conclusive. 

Hope this helps.

Health Nurse

How long after a chancre is visible does the RPR test positive?

Hi there and thanks for your question. 

If someone has a suspect syphilis chancre, one of the best tests to do is a PCR test from the actual chancre or lesion itself. Basically, trying to get a sample from the chancre itself is the best test to do during these early stages.

One cannot always rely on the RPR test, or other syphilis blood tests to confirm a primary syphilis diagnosis. Doctors at our clinic have seen many primary syphilis cases where the RPR has been negative, as well as some of the other more specific blood tests being negative.

If you suspect a chancre, and the RPR comes back negative, best to have a repeat test a month or so later to confirm this.

Hope this answers your question.


Health Nurse


Is the hiv test rna naat?

If you get a blood test for HIV in British Columbia, the first line test is called a 4th generation antigen/antibody test. If this test is negative. No further testing is done. If this test is positive, then a confimatory test is completed.

The confirmatory test is called an immunoblot test and it looks for antibodies to HIV (your immune response to the virus).

The HIV NAAT test is only used in BC under special circumstances and it needs to have a special order to accompany it. It is not used as a first line test for people testing for HIV in BC.


I am really stressed if I have an std or not but I don’t have any symptoms. I had oral and vaginal sex with condom on at all times. I can’t seem to control these thoughts and do sti testing places charge fees for testing. Is it anonymous?

Thank you for your question. 

Using a condom is definitely a great way to protect yourself from getting an STI; especially if it was used for both oral and vaginal sex.

If you are sexually active, it’s a really great idea to go and get tested regularly for STIs as most people who have an STI have no symptoms.

If you are writing from within Canada, testing for STIs is free of charge. Depending on where you go and get tested, you can use your real name, or a pseudonym (not real name). 

This webpage (SmartSexResource) has a list of clinics that offer testing. It can be found here: https://smartsexresource.com/get-tested/clinic-finder

There is also this online testing service that may also work for you: Get Checked Online https://getcheckedonline.com/Pages/default.aspx  It can sometimes offer that extra layer of anonymity for people.



What is the cost of Pap screening test which include all Hiv aids Sti and other sexual infections


Thanks for your question.

HIV, STI, and PAP screening is free in BC, with the BC Carecard (aka MSP). If you have a BC Carecard you can go to your family doctor, or any walk-in clinic, to get free testing.

If you do not have an BC Carecard (for example, if are not a permanent resident, or if you don’t have MSP), then you can still get free testing at these STI clinics:

  • Most Youth Clinics

If you live outside Vancouver, and need to find a free clinic, check out our Clinic Finder Tool.

Note: If you do not have a BC Carecard and try to get tested at a walk-in clinic, you could be charged around $200. So, it’s better to go to a free clinic!

Hope this helps!

Please let us know if you need any more information,

Health Nurse

Hi. I had possible exposure on 17th July condom broke with someone tested HIV positive at 2nd August and I tested negative on the sameday after 60day I tested am value number was 0.9 non reactive at 85days I did alert determine ag/ab combined test was negative again at 14week alert determine (ab) negative my question is what are chances of being positive at another 12weeks?


The HIV antibody test, and HIV Antigen/Antibody test, are both conclusive after 12 weeks (3months). If you’ve had a negative result from an AG/AB test at 14 weeks, we would say that is a conclusive result and there is no need to re-test.

Hope this helps,

Please feel free to submit another question as needed.

Health Nurse