Swabs and urine samples

The infections tested for using swabs and urine samples may include:

  • Chlamydia
  • Gonorrhoea
  • Candida (thrush)
  • Trichomoniasis (TV)
  • Bacterial Vaginosis (BV)
  • Herpes
  • Non specific urethritis (NSU) in men

Don’t worry if you have never heard of these, as we will explain each of them to you.


If you have no symptoms, you may take a swab from your vagina yourself or a doctor/nurse will do this if you prefer. You do not need to be examined.

If you have symptoms, the doctor/nurse will examine you and take the appropriate tests.


A freshly passed first urine sample is usually needed to test for chlamydia and gonorrhoea. If you have any symptoms, a fine swab will be taken from the urethra to test for Non-Specific Urethritis (NSU) and gonorrhoea. This test can be a little uncomfortable but only lasts a few seconds.

The advantage of taking swabs is that we can diagnose two of these infections on the day and give you any treatment that you need. It is important that you do not pass urine for 2 hours before having these swabs otherwise you can flush out the bacteria that we are testing for.

Blood tests

Everyone attending the clinic will be offered blood tests for Syphilis and HIV, even if you think that you are at low risk of having these infections. If we suggest an HIV test, it does not necessarily mean that we think that you are at high risk.

Some people will be offered a blood test for Hepatitis B and Hepatitis C. Gay and bisexual men will be offered free vaccination for Hepatitis B subject to availability of the vaccine.

HIV tests

The most common form of HIV test is a blood test, which is tested in a laboratory. The result is usually available within a few days. This test provides a reliable result six weeks after exposure to HIV.

It is possible in some circumstances to test for HIV using “point of care test kits”. These test a spot of blood taken from a needle prick to your finger. The result is available within a few minutes. However, it can take longer for the virus to show up in “point of care tests” after you have been infected with HIV, so if you are worried that you may have been infected with HIV in the past few weeks then it’s better to have the full blood test.

HIV test results

If the test finds no signs of HIV, then your test result is “negative”. If the HIV virus has been found in your blood then the test result is “positive”. All positive test results will be confirmed by another blood test.

If you test positive for HIV, the good news is today we have treatments that can prevent people with HIV from becoming unwell and which enable most people with the virus to live a long and healthy life. For more about treatment see HIV services.