Every year in the United States, an estimated 20 million new cases of sexually transmitted disease (STD) are diagnosed. By definition, anyone who’s sexually active can get an STD, so everyone who’s sexually active should also be tested for STDs at some point. Not every STD has outward symptoms, so the only way to know for sure that you have an STD is to get tested.
Many people, however, aren’t aware of how often they should be tested for STDs or even where to go for testing. Various medical facilities offer STD testing, such as hospitals, clinics, pregnancy centers, and doctor’s offices. For women who’d like their STD testing handled discreetly, it’s probably best to go to your OB/GYN provider. Dr. Lyndon Taylor, at Healthcare for Women in suburban Chicago, has been a trusted resource for women for many years.
Here’s a look at how often you should get tested for various STDs — the recommendations vary according to several factors, so make sure you discuss your particular situation with your doctor.
How often should I be tested?
Anyone age 13-64 should get tested at least once for HIV. While this is an STD, you can also contract HIV through blood transfusions and other methods, so you should be tested at some point even if you know you wouldn’t have gotten it through sexual contact.
If you’re a sexually active woman younger than 25, you should get tested every year for gonorrhea and chlamydia. If you’re a woman older than 25 with risk factors such as new sex partners, multiple sex partners, or a sex partner who has an STD, you should also be tested every year for gonorrhea and chlamydia.
If you’re pregnant, you should get tested early in your pregnancy for syphilis, HIV, and hepatitis B. Pregnant women who have risk factors for other STDs should be tested for gonorrhea and chlamydia as well. If there’s a possibility of contracting an STD throughout the pregnancy, the test should be repeated as necessary.
If you regularly have unsafe sex or if you share injection drug equipment, you should also get tested for HIV once a year.
And, of course, if you find out your partner has an STD, you should get a test as well.
What if I test positive?
Getting a positive test result for an STD isn’t the end of the world. Most STDs are curable, and all of them are treatable. You’ve already taken the most important step. The next step is to get treatment as soon as possible to avoid getting reinfected and to keep symptoms from getting any worse.
If you would like to learn more about STD testing, don’t hesitate to contact Dr. Taylor at Healthcare for Women, with Chicago-area offices in Oak Park and North Riverside, Illinois, to set up an appointment. Call the office nearest you or book your visit online.