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STD tests in high demand in times of corona

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The Public Health Service (GGD) in Utrecht isn’t just busy testing people for corona; it’s also very busy at the STD clinic. The GGD had expected the demand for STD tests would drop during the pandemic, but that isn’t the case. In fact, the clinic is seeing signs that young people are dating more than before.

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The call for ‘testing, testing, testing’ is being answered en masse by young people. The number of requests for STD tests at the GGD Utrecht is so high that there is now a two-week waiting list. New requests are still being processed, but you have to be willing to wait. In urgent cases (for instance in cases of sexual violence), you can get preference, and if possible, they will make an appointment within days.

Another way to get tested more quickly is by going to your general practitioner’s office, or ordering a self-test online from diagnostic centre Saltro. This does cost money, however, whereas testing at the GGD is free. GGD tests are also anonymous, and tests via the GP or Saltro aren’t. People younger than 25 years old can go to the GGD for an STD test – in some cases, it’s still possible to go to the GGD if you’re older than 25, but that’s usually reserved for cases that are urgent or have an increased risk.

Corona
The GGD Is currently operating its STD testing at the same capacity as it usually does. The waiting time has increased because of the high number of requests. “Because of the coronavirus, we’d expected a drop in requests for STD tests, because people wouldn’t seek each other out as much,” says a GGD spokesperson. “But there is no drop. We’re even seeing signs that people are dating more than before.” The spokesperson can’t say how many requests for STD tests the GGD has received.

Since October, the GGD’s STD clinic has been operating at maximum capacity again. The months before, from the lockdown in March, the STD tests were done at a lower speed and capacity. It’s hard to say whether that has had an impact on the increase in requests for STD tests now. It’s possible that due to the coronavirus, young people waited a longer time before getting tested, and that’s why they’re now all knocking on the GGD doors. “But if you’re really experiencing symptoms, there’s no chance you’d walk around with them for months,” the spokesperson thinks.

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