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STD TESTING: WHAT'S RIGHT FOR YOU?

Sexually transmitted diseases are common, but the types of STD testing you need may vary by your risk factors. Find out what's recommended for you.

If you're sexually active, especially with multiple partners, you've probably heard the following advice many times: Use protection and get tested.

This is important because a person can have a sexually transmitted disease (STD) without knowing it. In many cases, there aren't any signs or symptoms. In fact, that's why many experts prefer the term sexually transmitted infections (STIs), because you can have an infection without disease symptoms.

But what types of STI testing do you need? And how often should you be screened? The answers depend on your age, your sexual behaviors and other risk factors.

Don't assume that you're receiving STI testing every time you have a gynecologic exam or Pap test. If you think that you need STI testing, Call us today. We can talk to you about your concerns and what tests you'd like or need.

Testing for specific STIs

See these guidelines for STI testing for specific sexually transmitted infections (STIs).

Chlamydia and Gonorrhea

National guidelines recommend that you get screened annually if:

  • You're a sexually active woman under age 25

  • You're a woman older than 25 and at risk of STIs — such as having sex with a new partner or multiple partners

  • You're a man who has sex with men

  • You have HIV

  • You've been forced to have intercourse or engage in sexual activity against your will

People are screened for chlamydia and gonorrhea by taking a urine test or a swab inside the penis in men or from the cervix in women. The sample is then analyzed in a lab. Screening is important, because if you don't have signs or symptoms, you may not know that you have either infection.

HIV and Syphilis

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) encourages HIV testing, at least once, as a routine part of medical care if you're an adolescent or adult between the ages of 13 and 64. Younger teens should be tested if they have a high risk of an STI. The CDC advises yearly HIV testing if you're at high risk of infection.

National guidelines recommend that you get tested for HIV, Syphilis and Hepatitis if you:

  • Test positive for another STI, which puts you at greater risk of other STIs

  • Have had more than one sexual partner (or if your partner has had multiple partners) since your last test

  • Use intravenous (IV) drugs

  • Are a man who has sex with men

  • Are pregnant or planning on becoming pregnant

  • Have been forced to have intercourse or engage in sexual activity against your will

Your doctor tests you for syphilis by taking either a blood sample or a swab from any genital sores you might have. The sample is examined in a lab. A blood sample is taken to test for HIV and hepatitis.


Positive Test Results

If you test positive for an STI, the next step is to consider further testing and then get treatment as recommended by your doctor. In addition, inform your sex partners. Your partners need to be evaluated and treated, because you can pass some infections back and forth.

Expect to feel many emotions. You may feel ashamed, angry or afraid. It may help to remind yourself that you've done the right thing by getting tested so that you can inform your partners and get treated.