Sexual health clinic

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San Francisco City Clinic, a STD testing center in San Francisco

Sexual health clinics specialize in the prevention and treatment of sexually transmitted infections.


Sexual health clinics are also called sexually transmitted disease (STD) clinics, sexually transmitted infection (STI) clinics, venereal disease (VD) clinics, or genitourinary medicine (GUM) clinics.[citation needed]

Sexual health clinics differ from reproductive health and family planning clinics. Sexual health clinics offer only some reproductive health services. Reproductive health clinics, such as Planned Parenthood, offer most of the services of sexual health clinics.[citation needed]


Sexual health clinics provide some or all of the following:[citation needed]

Many clinics provide vaccinations to prevent infections from the hepatitis A and B viruses.[1] Young women may receive vaccinations to prevent infection from some strains of the human papillomavirus (HPV).[citation needed]

Many clinics provide interpreting for the hearing impaired or speakers of other languages.[citation needed]

Many clinics will help patients tell their sexual contacts if they have a sexually transmitted infection, anonymously if needed.[2]

Public governmental and non-profit clinics often provide services for free or adjust the fee based on a patient's ability to pay. Sexual health clinics often offer services without appointments. Some clinics open evenings or weekends. Some clinics have separate hours or facilities for men and women. Some clinics serve only specific populations such as women, men, MSM, youths, LGBT, ethnic groups, the poor, or students.[citation needed]


With the patient's consent, a clinician will inspect the patient visually and by touch. If needed, the clinician will take samples to test for sexually transmitted infections.[citation needed]

In a private room or space, the patient will partially undress.[citation needed]

The clinician may inspect the patient's:[citation needed]

The clinician may swab the patient's:

The clinician may take small blood samples by pricking a finger or from a vein[4] to test for HIV, syphilis, and possibly herpes[5] and hepatitis C.[6][7][8]

The clinician may ask for a small urine sample, given in private, to test for chlamydia and possibly gonorrhea. The inspections and taking samples do not hurt, but swabbing the urethra and cervix, and a finger prick blood sample feel uncomfortable. Women will often receive a pelvic exam, both external and internal, but usually less thorough than a reproductive health exam. A patient can choose a female or male clinician if available. A patient can have a chaperone. Some clinics have separate hours or facilities for men and women.[citation needed]


Medical confidentiality is an important part of the medical ethics of a doctor–patient relationship. Sexual health clinics follow local standards of medical confidentiality to protect the privacy of patients. Some clinics provide anonymous services or protect confidentiality by having a patient use a number or a pseudonym.[9]

Additional privacy protections sometimes apply to matters of sexuality and reproduction, since these areas are sensitive in many cultures. The diagnosis of HIV/AIDS has legal restrictions in patient confidentiality, and some clinics use rapid antibody tests to provide results to a patient within 30 minutes, without holding the patient's records.[citation needed]

In the United States, clinics receiving federal funding from Medicaid or Title X of the Public Health Service Act must treat all patients confidentially. Thus minors can receive services without parental notification or consent.[10][11][12] Additionally, medical records for all patients age 18 and above are strictly confidential under HIPAA.[13]


Medical standards of informed consent apply to sexual health clinics. A patient needs information about the purposes and consequences of examinations, tests, treatments, and other procedures. A patient may then choose whether to consent to these procedures.[citation needed]

A minor may consent to receive some or all of the procedures at many sexual health clinics.[citation needed]


  1. ^ "What I need to know about Hepatitis B - How can I protect myself?". National Digestive Diseases Information Clearinghouse. December 2006. Retrieved 2008-09-28.
  2. ^ "inSPOT - About this site". Internet Sexuality Information Services. Archived from the original on 2006-04-10. Retrieved 2008-09-26. Notify everyone you've had sex with in the past six months.
  3. ^ "Herpes Viral Culture of Lesion". UCSF Medical Center. 2007-12-03. Archived from the original on 2008-08-29. Retrieved 2008-09-28.
  4. ^ Pruett, Saralyn; Daly, Myra; Kosiek, Joan; Flaherty, Richard (2001-08-27). "Tips on Blood Testing". American Association for Clinical Chemistry. Archived from the original on 2008-09-17. Retrieved 2008-09-28.
  5. ^ "Learn About Herpes > Testing - Introduction to blood tests". American Social Health Association. Archived from the original on 2008-09-27. Retrieved 2008-09-28.
  6. ^ "Hepatitis Virus Test or Panel". UCSF Medical Center. 2007-11-01. Archived from the original on 2008-09-05. Retrieved 2008-09-28.
  7. ^ "Hepatitis C (HCV) > Questions & Answers - Testing/Diagnosis". American Social Health Association. Archived from the original on 2008-09-19. Retrieved 2008-09-28.
  8. ^ "Hepatitis C". American Association for Clinical Chemistry. 2005-12-16. Retrieved 2008-09-28.
  9. ^ "What Happens When You Visit Our STD Clinic?". Champaign-Urbana Public Health District. Retrieved 2008-08-31. Show Your ID
  10. ^ "Forced Parental Involvement Defeats the Goals of the Title X Program". The Center for Reproductive Rights. January 2004. Archived from the original on 2008-09-21. Retrieved 2008-09-02.
  11. ^ Friedman, Deborah (2007-06-12). "America's Family Planning Program: Title X". Planned Parenthood Federation of America. Archived from the original on 2008-04-30. Retrieved 2008-08-31.
  12. ^ "History of Title X". National Family Planning and Reproductive Health Association. Archived from the original on 2008-09-21. Retrieved 2008-08-31.
  13. ^ Stevens, Sara. "STD Health Clinics". STDAware. Retrieved 16 June 2017.

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