Should I Get Tested for an STD?
If you’re sexually active (or planning to be), it’s always a good idea to get tested. Even if you’re in a monogamous relationship. The better question to ask is, “How often should I get tested?”
And deciding whether or not to get tested shouldn’t be based on whether you’re experiencing any symptoms – many STDs don’t have symptoms but can still cause problems. In fact, both Gonorrhea and Chlamydia rarely present symptoms, yet they are the most commonly reported STDs in the US.
The best determinant of testing is really the frequency of your sexual activity. If you have multiple partners, it’s recommended to get tested every 6 months, or at least annually. Even better is getting tested with your partner.
How Much Does STD Testing Cost?
The hurdle for many individuals is the cost of STD testing. Some insurance plans cover STD testing, others only if you are experiencing symptoms. Many do not cover at all. At Physicians Immediate Care we offer our comprehensive STI test panel for common STDs for $275. Click here for more information on our STD testing and costs.
How Harmful Are STDs?
The effects can vary based on the particular disease, but, even if a particular disease is not lethal, it can still have very harmful effects if left untreated.
Gonorrhea and Chlamydia, for example, are not typically fatal but, untreated, can lead to infertility in women as well as long-term pain in the pelvic and abdominal regions.
Hepatitis B can cause serious harm, such as liver cancer and cirrhosis, and both Hepatitis B and C can, in the long term, lead to death. Syphilis can cause severe medical problems as well, affecting the brain, heart, and other organs. HIV can attack the immune, digestive, respiratory, and central nervous system (among others) and put one at greater risk of contracting other harmful – even fatal – diseases.
Other diseases such as Bacterial Vaginosis and Trichomoniasis, while typically non-lethal, can also put one at greater risk of contracting harmful diseases.
However, all these diseases can be treated, and many can be cured – but recovery begins with testing.
How Old Should I Be to Get Tested?
It’s a myth to think that the risk is limited mostly to adults. You may be surprised to know that young people between the ages of 15 to 24 account for 50% of new STIs. In fact, 70% of new infections of Gonorrhea and 63% of new infections of Chlamydia occur within this age group, according to the CDC – and keep in mind these are among the most widespread diseases and do not typically present symptoms, making testing all the more important.
Similarly, for HIV, the CDC recommends testing at least once for everyone between the ages of 13 and 64.
How Often Should I Get Tested?
Certain groups are more at risk than others, so the recommended frequency can vary.
Sexually active gay and bisexual men are recommended to get tested every 3 to 6 months, and individuals who have had sex with HIV-positive partners, sought treatment for other STDs, or have had sex with more than one partner since their last test (among others), should get tested at least annually.
What Does Testing Entail?
PIC offers a comprehensive 10-Test Panel for the most common STDs, including Gonorrhea, Chlamydia, Hepatitis B & C, HIV, Syphilis, Bacterial Vaginosis, and Trichomoniasis. The test itself consists of a swab, urine, and blood collection. Within a few days of the testing, we will call you with your results.
At our PIC locations, we keep STD testing as comfortable, hassle-free, and private as possible.
Remember: Treatment and recovery begin with testing!