Testing for STIs and HIV for transgender people

Transgender people may be more likely to get an STI or HIV. That is why it is important to get tested regularly. This is best done at the STI clinic of the GGD or at your GP.

Go directly to:
Risks
Testing
Cervical cancer

 

Extra risk of HIV and STIs for transgender people

Are you a transgender person? Then you could have a higher risk to get an STI or HIV. This has a number of reasons:

  • Your skin is more vulnerable to STIs Did you recently have surgery on your penis, vagina or uterus? Then your skin in extra vulnerable to STIs for a number of months.
  • You are not using a condom You might feel vulnerable. As a result, you may be more likely to cross your own boundaries with sex. Not everyone uses condoms. You can use PrEP to at least protect yourself against HIV.
  • You are not using the right kind of condom A rubber condom is not safe if you use an oil or grease based lubricant. This lubricant is best for the skin of the neo vagina. Therefore, use condoms based on polyurethane.
  • Your vagina is less wet due to hormone treatment Hormone treatment can make the vagina less wet in trans men during sex. This can damage the inside of the vagina. This can make you more likely to get an STI. Lubricant can prevent or reduce wounds. Note: if you use oil or grease based lubricant, be sure to use polyurethane based condoms! Ordinary condoms are destroyed by oil or fat.
  • You have anal sex Many transgender people have anal sex. Mucous membrane in the anus is more prone to damage. As a result, you can get an STI or HIV more quickly. 
  • You have sex with men who have sex with men Do you have sex with men who also have sex with men? STIs and HIV are more common in this group.

 

Testing for HIV and STIs

Where can you get tested for HIV and STIs?

As a transgender person, you can get tested by your General Practitioner (GP) just like everyone else.


You can go to the GGD for free in these situations:

  • You have symptoms of an STI
  • You have been warned about an STI
  • You are younger than 25 years old
  • You have sex with men
  • You are a sex worker
  • You come from a country where STIs are common. Or you have sex with someone from there. This is mainly Asia, Africa, parts of South and Central America, Eastern Europe and Russia. For help with translating, visit Zanzu.nl.

The consultation hours of the GGD STI clinics are often very busy. Sometimes there is a waiting list or there is no place. The GGD may refer you to your GP. The STI test by your GP is not free. You pay for it with the deductible of your health insurance.

The GGD STI clinics are spread throughout the Netherlands. Find the nearest clinic and make an appointment for a an STI test.

Testlab 

Unfortunately Man tot Man Testlab is currently not suitable for trans men (with a vagina). Testlab's standard testing package includes a urine test for chlamydia and gonorrhea. This test is not reliable enough to detect STIs in the vagina. Get tested at the GGD STI clinic or at your trusted GP instead.

Trans women with a penis can go to Testlab. Not all employees of the test locations have (much) experience with transgender people. We recommend that you go to the GGD or your trusted doctor for a smooth testing procedure.

How does an STI test work?

For the STI test, the doctor or nurse will ask you a number of questions. Also about your sex life. STIs do not always cause visible symptoms. If you do experience symptoms on or in your body, it is important to say this. It could be an STI. The doctor or nurse will then examine your body.


After the interview and the examination you will hear whether one or more tests are necessary. The test requires a swab, urine test, or blood test. Sometimes all three are needed.

Not all GP's have much experience with transgender people and transitions. Therefore, it is important to pay attention to a few things if you want to do an STI test with your GP:

  • Choose a GP with whom you feel comfortable
    and who you can tell about your situation and transition.
  • Tell your doctor if you have a penis or a vagina
    Your GP needs to know this in order to give you the right STI test. If you have a (neo) vagina, you will get a smear for the STI test. You can usually do this test yourself at the GP or STI clinic by removing moisture form the inside of your vagina with a cotton swab.
    Do you have a (neo) penis? Then you will get a urine test to see if you have any STIs in you urethra. Some doctors still work with a swab/smear to find STIs in the urethra. 
  • Get tested for the 5 most common STIs: HIV, gonorrhea, chlamydia, syphilis and hepatitis B
    If you (also) have anal and/or oral sex, you need the full test package. The doctor will wukk then take a swab from the throat and anus, plus a smear or urine test for your vagina or penis. Blood is also taken for the HIV and syphilis test. Ask for this full test package if sex is your job or if you have sex with men who have sex with men.  

Preventing HIV with PrEP

There are situations where, as a transgender person, you are more likely to get HIV during sex. For instance:

  • You have sex with men who have sex with men
  • Sex is your job

You can protect yourself by using PrEP. You take this medicine every day. If you only have anal sex you can also take it only before and after sex. PrEP does not protect you against other STIs. use a condom for this.
Discuss with the STI clinic of the GGD whether PrEP is for you or first read more about PrEP.


Cervical cancer screening

Are you between 30 and 60 years old and do you have a uterus? You can then have yourself checked for cervical cancer. You will recieve a call for this by post once every 5 years. Your GP will give you a PAP smear through your vagina. Usually you can do this smear yourself. With this test, cervical cancer can be prevented or spotted early, so that treatment can be done timely.

Cervical cancer is caused by the HPV virus. Most people who have had sex, have had this virus at some point.

Please note:

  • Are you registered with your municipality as a woman? Then you will automatically receive a call for the population screening.
  • Do you have a womb and are you registered as a man with your municipality? Then you will not receive a call. Ask your GP for a screening.
  • Are you unsure whether a population screening is necessary? Discuss this with your doctor.


Read more about the population screening for cervical cancer.

 

What is transgender?

Andy (17) discovered he is a boy