The GLBT Center of Central Florida now offers free testing for gonorrhea, chlamydia and syphilis. Starting August 31, the tests will be available Monday from 11 a.m. – 5 p.m.
Lindsay Kincaide, the HIV program coordinator at The Center, says they’re “very excited” and the Orange County Department of Health will provide the staff and perform the tests.
“No appointments needed – first come, first serve basis,” Kincaide says. “All are welcome, but we are definitely wanting to reach out to the LGBT community to address some of the health disparities in the community to make sure everyone has access to STI testing.”
Like the HIV tests, the syphilis test is a finger prick test with results ready in twelve minutes. The gonorrhea and chlamydia tests are urine tests, and results take longer, but if the client signs a consent form, results can be sent via text.
She says the tests are free. There is only one other place to get these STI tests for free in Orange County, Kincaide says, and that is Miracle of Love on Fridays from 1 – 4 p.m.
“It’s not enough to have one location do [the STI testing] a couple of hours on a Friday afternoon,” Kincaide says. “They needed the support.”
Syphilis can be cured with antibiotics, but untreated, it can cause complications, neurological damage or even death.
Kincaide says Orange County saw a 114 percent increase in the number of reported cases of syphilis between 2003 and 2012 and according to the Centers for Disease Control, 75 percent of reported primary and secondary syphilis cases in 2013 were among men who have sex with men. From 2003 to 2012, Orange County also saw a 10 percent jump in gonorrhea cases and a whopping 100 percent jump in chlamydia cases.
“Per the CDC, gay and bisexual men, men who have sex with other men regardless of how they identify, and transgender women are disproportionately impacted by STIs,” Kincaide wrote in an email to Watermark. “For this reason, The Center and the Florida Department of Health in Orange County felt it was imperative that free STI testing be available at The Center of Central where the LGBT community has been coming for years for free HIV testing.”
She says the Center also offers free Hepatitis C and HIV tests seven days a week, and they test between 450 and 650 people each month.