Sexually Transmitted Infections (STI) Awareness and Screening
In Howard County, the number of cases of both chlamydia and gonorrhea have nearly doubled in teens ages 15 and up in recent years. One in every two sexually-active young people will contract a sexually transmitted infection (STI) before age 25, and many are not even aware they are infected or of the significant risks to their health.
In response to this growing health crisis, HCPSS and the Howard County Health Department (HCHD) have launched an awareness campaign to inform high school students about the risks of STIs and offer free, confidential screening tests and access to treatment. This initiative, “I Want the Kit” (IWTK), is co-sponsored and funded by a grant from the Maryland Department of Health (MDH).
Information about the health risks and how to access free, confidential testing will be posted in all high school counseling and nurses’ offices, school restrooms and locker rooms. STI testing kits will be available to students free of charge in the nurse’s office in every high school, ARL, and the Homewood Center.
Students requesting the test kit and receiving test results will remain confidential. Test results will be shared only with the student, and if positive, with the Howard County Health Department. The information will not be reported to HCPSS, the student’s parents, or any other person or organization.
Frequently Asked Questions on STI Awareness, Screening, and Testing
How do students obtain a testing kit?
Information cards are placed in the nurses’ offices, guidance offices, and other student services offices that students may pick up. The card provides instructions on how to obtain an STI kit via the Johns Hopkins University (MDH) “I Want the Kit” website. The student will then create an online, confidential account and request a kit.
Johns Hopkins Lab will send the kits in a confidential envelope to the school nurse, who will provide the kit to the student. The student may choose to complete the specimen in the nurse’s private bathroom and have the nurse mail it for the student, or the student may choose to bring the test home to complete and mail.
What is the cost to students for the testing?
There is no cost to the student for the STI kit, lab test or postage. The student should enter “HCPSS” in the code box when requesting a test kit from the online service to waive the $3.50 postage fee to mail the test specimen to the lab. See the testing page on the “I Want the Kit” website for specific instructions.
When will the student receive the results?
The test kit will arrive at the school within two business days. Once the kit is sent to the lab, the results will be posted to the student’s confidential online account within one week.
How will the student be notified of a positive or negative result?
The results, positive or negative, are sent to the student’s online account. The student can then go to the Howard County Health Department for free, confidential treatment, or may print the results and visit their own health provider.
Who can request a kit?
At this time, only HCPSS high school students are eligible to participate in the school system campaign.
What will the school system do with the results?
HCPSS will not receive a copy of the results. No identifiable data will be kept on the students who are tested or their test results. HCPSS is tracking only the number of test kits provided, but all information about which students receive test kits remains confidential. Parents will not be notified that their student received a kit.
Who is available to provide students with information and any needed counseling?
HCPSS student services staff, including nurses, counselors and psychologists, are available to provide counseling and information to students throughout the process. Students with questions about the test kit should contact their school nurse or the Howard County Health Department.