Demand for free STD tests in Amsterdam is too great

Demand for free STD tests in Amsterdam is too great
Demand for free STD tests in Amsterdam is too great

Young people up to the age of 25, people who think they have an STD or who have been warned about an STD, men who have sex with men and sex workers can qualify for a free STD test at an STD outpatient clinic of the GGD. But the Center for Sexual Health (CSG, also known as the STI outpatient clinic) of the GGD Amsterdam is running into capacity problems.

Maximum test capacity reached

Before 2022, the STI outpatient clinic has a capacity of approximately 50,000 consultations for STIs and sexual health, as well as 10,000 PrEP consultations, the medicine that can prevent HIV infection. The maximum test capacity is used, but the demand always exceeds the supply. “It happens very often that our maximum capacity has been reached,” a spokesperson said. “We have indicated several times to the Ministry of Health, Welfare and Sport that our capacity is lagging behind demand. Our problem is not being picked up.”

And so it is difficult for people in the risk groups to make an appointment online. The organization regularly refers the vulnerable group who qualifies for a free test to their GP. The big difference is that at the STI clinic a test is anonymous and free and at the GP you have to pay for it. Of course, this also applies to the commercial test clinics.

What does an STD test cost?

The costs depend on the type of STD test you do. A test for chlamydia costs about 40 euros at the doctor. You can get a test online for 20 euros.

If more tests are needed, the costs can rise to more than 200 euros. This is (partly) dependent on your own risk. If you have exhausted your deductible, the costs will be reimbursed from your basic health insurance by your health insurer.

Additional care

Anyone who thinks they have an STD, or who has had sexual contact with someone who has an STD and falls outside the risk group, should report to their GP. “The GGD’s STI clinics are a supplementary sexual health care system and are only intended for vulnerable groups and high-risk groups,” says Silke David, program manager STI and sexual health at RIVM. “People with a high risk of an STI can get themselves tested quickly and for free at a clinic.”

There is a lot of demand for this free care at the GGD. First of all because it is anonymous, but also because an STI consultation with the doctor is at your own risk and people with a small budget therefore want a free test. “I understand, but it is not the intention that ‘security seekers’ go to the GGD. If you fall outside the risk group, you often cannot go to the outpatient clinic.”

Not long waiting times everywhere

There are a total of 25 GGDs in the Netherlands. When asked at the majority of the other locations, it appears that people who fall into the risk group can always be seen there quickly. The GGD locations in Groningen, Friesland and Drenthe can test within 24 hours.

This also applies to the GGDs in Limburg, Brabant and Gelderland and Overijssel. The figures and waiting times of the GGDs in other large cities such as Rotterdam and Utrecht are not known.

‘Some clinics are full’

Since 2015, there has been a financial budget for the number of consultations. “Some STI clinics are full and therefore have no money to expand. Then someone who qualifies for it will still receive a referral to the GP or a commercial test option, which is often cheaper than a consultation with the GP. “

The fact that the outpatient clinic in Amsterdam cannot cope with the demand has nothing to do with personnel deployed for vaccination centers, which is not the case. Silke David: “But the PrEP scheme and the questions surrounding the Monkeypox put extra pressure on the staff and the organizational structure.”

The article is in Dutch

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