Who Should be Tested for STDs and How Often?
Every year in the US, about 20 million new sexually transmitted disease (STD) infections are reported, yet many more infections go unreported. That means that not only are millions of people not getting the treatment they need to stay healthy, but they may also be spreading infections without even knowing it.
At Medical Access, we offer an array of discreet, confidential STD tests to help you stay healthy. Having regular STD screening is important, especially for people at risk of contracting the diseases. Here’s how to tell if you should be screened.
The importance of STD screening
STDs can cause serious, even life-threatening, problems if they aren’t properly treated. If you don’t know you have an STD, you can spread it to a sexual partner, who can spread it to others. STD testing is the best way to tell if you have an STD, so you can prevent more serious illness and stop the spread of disease, too.
Today, STD testing is a relatively simple process. Depending on the test that’s being performed, you might need to provide a urine, saliva, blood, or semen sample for testing. A physical exam can also be helpful in diagnosing some STDs, like herpes or genital warts.
Should you be screened?
The CDC offers some simple guidelines to help determine who should have STD testing and how often those screenings should occur. According to those guidelines:
Sexually active adults
Any adult between 13-64 years of age should be tested for HIV at least once. Sexually active women under the age of 25 should be tested annually for gonorrhea and chlamydia, and women over age 25 should also have annual screenings for chlamydia and gonorrhea if they have a new sex partner, multiple sex partners, or a sex partner who has an STD.
The CDC also says all pregnant women should be screened for HIV, hepatitis B, and syphilis early in their pregnancies, and women at risk for STDs should also be tested for chlamydia and gonorrhea during those early months. The screening tests should be repeated during pregnancy as necessary in order to protect the health of both the baby and the mother.
Gay and bisexual men
Gay and bisexual men who are sexually active should be screened once a year or more frequently for syphilis, chlamydia, and gonorrhea, and men who have mutiple partners or anonymous partners should be tested every three to six months. In addition, this population also may benefit from HIV testing every three to six months.
The CDC also recommends annual HIV screening for anyone who shares needles for drug use and anyone who practices unsafe sex, including sex without a condom, having multiple sex partners, or engaging in anal intercourse.
Test for your health
The good news is, most STDs respond well to early treatment, and many STDs can be completely cured with appropriate (and early) medical care. The key is to get screening as early as possible so that you can begin treatment before the infection gets worse or spreads to other people.
Bottom line: The best way to know if you need an STD test is to be open and honest with your doctor about your sexual activity, sexual history, and potential risk factors for STDs. If you think you could benefit from STD testing, call our offices in Germantown, Maryland, or Alexandria or Woodbridge, Virginia, where we offer same-day appointments as well as scheduled appointments to suit your busy schedule. Or, use our online tool to book an appointment today.