Lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and questioning (LGBTQ) students and non-LGBTQ students have many of the same health concerns (e.g., flu, strep, mono). However, you may have unique health concerns as well. You should not have to worry about whether your health provider will understand your specific needs and treat you professionally.
Our medical staff has been trained in LGBTQ health issues. We are comfortable and confident responding to your concerns. Our approach to health and sexual health is inclusive. Please come and see us!
The Health and Wellness Service welcomes and affirms all students of all gender identities, expressions and sexual orientations.
Make an appointment or utilize our walk-in hours any time if you are worried about a symptom or have been exposed to someone diagnosed with a sexuallly transmitted infection (STI). Screening can be important for anyone who is sexually active and Health Service provides routine STI testing. STI testing is also a regular part of gynecologic appointments.
Which test you get depends on your exposures and sexual practices. A Health Service clinician will discuss your sexual history with you as well as symptoms of various STIs. We can test for almost any STI. Some are blood tests, some are urine tests, and some are done through swabbing.
STI Tests Available Through Health Service
We provide confidential HIV testing -- this means we will share your test results with you and enter them into your confidential medical record. We do not share test results with anyone, not partners or parents, except as mandated by state law.
State law requires medical provider to report positive HIV test results and cases of AIDS by name to the Massachusetts HIV/AIDS Surveillance Program at the Department of Public Health (DPH). The DPH has strong security measures in place to protect HIV/AIDS reporting data. In addition, state regulations prohibit names from being shared with anyone, including state or federal government entities.
Since HIV testing is now considered a routine screening test and is universally recommended, there are very few anonymous testing sites.
HIV Post-Exposure Prophylaxis (PEP) is a medical treatment that, if taken soon after a high-risk exposure, can significantly reduce your chance of becoming infected with HIV. It must be taken within 72 hours but is most effective if taken within 24 hours of possible exposure to HIV.
More information about PEP
Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis (PrEP) is medication you take every day on a long-term basis if you are at high risk of being infected with HIV. The medication is safe and effective if taken regularly and has minimal side effects.
More information about PrEP
Health Service clinicians are knowledgeable about PEP and PrEP and comfortable with their use. If you feel concerned but uncertain about your risk for HIV infection, contact us. We can talk with you about your concerns and help you decide on a course of action. Your conversation with us will be completely confidential.
PEP is medication that should be taken as soon as possible after a high-risk exposure to reduce the chance of acquiring HIV. It needs to be started within 72 hours of a possible exposure, and ideally within 24 hours. Typically you will need to take a combination of three medications for 28 days.
Most insurance, including Tufts student health insurance, covers the cost of PEP. You will be responsible for the co-pays.
If you are concerned about a risky sexual exposure, come to the Walk-In Center at Health Service as soon as we open the next day. If the next day is a Sunday (when health service isn’t open), you can call 617-627-3350 and follow the prompts to reach our nurse line. The nurse can connect you with the clinician on call, if needed.
HIV PrEP is a medical treatment to protect you from HIV infection. PrEP is for people who are not HIV positive but are at high risk of infection. PrEP combines two medications in a single pill that is taken once a day for a period of months or years to prevent HIV.
It is highly effective if taken very consistently. Side effects, such as gas, nausea, and headache are usually mild if they occur, and resolve within several weeks.
Most insurance, including Tufts student health insurance, covers the cost of medications for PrEP. You will be responsible for the co-pays.
If you are interested, make an appointment at Health Service to speak with one of our clinicians. Tell the appointment secretary that you want to discuss PrEP.
Health Service carries Gardasil, one of two vaccines currently licensed for use against human papillomavirus (HPV). Gardasil is most effective when you take it before becoming sexually active. The Centers for Disease Control recommend all boys and girls get vaccinated at the age of 11 or 12. If you did not get vaccinated when you were young, the CDC recommends a catch-up vaccine up to the age of 21 for men and up to the age of 26 for women.
It provides protection against 4 strains of HPV: two strains that most commonly cause cancer of the cervix, and two strains that most frequently cause genital warts. It is a three shot series, given over a 6 to 12 month period. The vaccine does not treat HPV; it can only help prevent it. There are dozens of strains of HPV, so those who are immunized need to be aware that they can still catch HPV—vaccination just decreases the likelihood.
Fees vary for different tests. Student health insurance and many private health insurance policies cover STI testing. We will work with you to see if your lab charges can be billed directly to your insurance company.
Transgender Health Care
Tufts Health Service affirms and supports students of all gender identities and gender expressions. We offer a range of services for transgender, non-binary, and/or gender non-conforming students. The student health insurance plan offered by the university provides comprehensive coverage for the needs of students who are transitioning; covering gender affirmation surgeries as well as hormones and counseling. Our staff are trained on transgender issues, and our forms offer you the opportunity to self-identify gender identity. Our electronic medical record gives the option of sharing a preferred name as well as an opportunity to share pronouns. We strive to provide a safe, intentional space where trans, non-binary and/or gender non-conforming students can have all of their health and wellness needs met.
We provide reproductive and sexual health care tailored to fit an individual student’s specific needs. Students interested in hormonal therapy or surgeries are invited to establish care with one of our transgender health trained medical providers. We will work with the student to develop an individualized treatment plan. Many services can be provided at Health Service, and students can be referred to more experienced providers if needed.
All of our clinicians are committed to meeting the needs of trans, non-binary and/or gender non-conforming students, but three clinicians are especially experienced and trained: Ariel Watriss NP, Stacey Sperling MD, and Margaret Higham MD.
Continuing Hormone Treatment: Our transgender health care specialist clinicians can continue the prescribing of ongoing hormone treatment for students. We request documentation from the previous clinician, with most recent lab results if available.
Initiating Hormone Treatment: Our transgender health care specialist clinicians are trained in initiating hormone treatment. We require a letter of recommendation from a mental health provider prior to starting hormone treatment, as outlined in the WPATH (World Professional Association for Transgender Health Association) Standards of Care. Clinicians at the Counseling and Mental Health Service are available to meet with you around this issue.
We have the names of several local surgeons who perform some gender affirmation surgeries: mastectomy (breast removal), augmentation mammoplasty (enlarging breasts), and hysterectomy-oophorectomy (removing uterus and ovaries). We will work with you to find other specialists if needed. A letter of recommendation from both a medical provider and a mental health provider is required prior to surgery as outlined in the WPATH Standards of Care and by most insurance companies. If you are receiving care at Health Service, your clinician can provide the medical documentation, and the staff at the Counseling and Mental Health Service are available to help with the mental health recommendation.
The Tufts University sponsored student health insurance plan is provided through United Student Resources. This policy covers a full range of transgender health benefits including gender affirmation surgeries, hormones and counseling. We recommend you come in to speak with someone from our Health Service Business Office, or give us a call at 617-627-3349 if you have any questions about coverage. Although surgeries and hormones are covered, there are co-pays and out-of-pocket costs associated with all medical care (i.e., the coverage limit does not mean you will not incur any costs). The Health Service wants to help you navigate what can at times be a difficult or challenging relationship with your insurance provider. If you want more info on the benefits of the student health insurance plan, including out-of-pocket costs, co-pays, and typical coverage: please come and talk to us.
- The Tufts Health Service Pre-entrance Health Questionnaire will ask for both sex at birth, and your gender identity.
- Your medical record however, will reflect the sex that is entered into the Student Information System.
- If the name you use is different from your legal name, tell your clinician – we can manually enter this name into your medical record. Both names will show up in your medical record.
- We can enter your pronouns into your medical record
- Ask us to show you when you come in for a visit