If you are sexually active, you should get STD tests. It is an essential part of your overall health. How often you should be tested is dependent on your current and past sexual situation. Let’s find out what experts say about who should get STD tests and how often.
Don’t Be Embarrassed About STD Testing
Being affected by a sexually transmitted disease is serious business, and you shouldn’t shy away from a discussion with your health care provider. Twenty million new cases of STDs are reported each year in the US, and many do not have symptoms.
If you are reluctant to have this conversation with your family or primary care doctor, you have options. There are urgent cares and health clinics where you can secure a low cost test or even free testing, and all information is confidential.
Common Sexual Diseases
STDs are infections passed through vaginal, anal, or oral sexual intercourse. Many types are passed by various strains of bacteria or viruses.
The most frequent types include the following:
- Human papillomavirus (HPV)
- Gonorrhea, or “the clap”
- Hepatitis B
- Genital warts
Although STDs still carry a negative stigma, they are very common. Young men and women are most susceptible, but these infections also increasingly affect adults over the age of 50.
Who Should Get Tested For STDs And How Often
General guidelines come from the CDC. If you are between the ages of 13 and 64, you should be tested for HIV every year.
Sexually Active Females
If you are younger than age 25, be tested for gonorrhea and chlamydia annually.
Females older than 25 or with risk factors like a partner with an STD or multiple partners, get tested every year.
If you are pregnant, get tested for HIV, Hepatitis B and C early in your pregnancy. If you are at risk for infection, be tested for chlamydia or gonorrhea also early in pregnancy and repeat the test as per your obstetrician.
Men Who Have Sex With Other Men
Annual testing is recommended for syphilis, chlamydia, and gonorrhea. Those with multiple partners should be tested more frequently.
Annual testing recommended for HIV, possibly every 3 – 6 months if multiple partners.
Annual testing for Hepatitis C if living with HIV.
Anyone Who Shares Drug Equipment
Get tested for HIV annually.
Discuss recommendations with your physician if you have oral or anal sex.
Living With STDs
Caught early, most STDs are treatable and curable. The best ways to avoid sexually transmitted diseases is to have only one monogamous partner, use a condom every time you have sexual intercourse, and get the HPV vaccine.