In the age of social media and dating apps, we tend to only share our most positive attributes. Meeting and dating new people with the possibility of having various sexual partners can be a by-product of these social interactions. Unfortunately, these new or brief interactions do not usually include open, honest discussion about one’s sexual health. This is why regular STI testing is critical. STI testing typically involves a blood draw (either from the arm or a finger prick), a urine test, or a swab of the source of the infection.
The most common STI’s for which regular testing is recommended and available include:
- Chlamydia (PID)
- Hepatitis B and C
- HPV (Genital Warts)
According to the CDC, syphilis cases rose 74% from 2015 to 2019 alone, and if left untreated it can lead to permanent neurological damage. Gonorrhea is in the top 3 most common STDs in the country (along with HPV and chlamydia) and has new variants that do not always respond to the standard course of antibiotic treatment. Lastly, PID (chlamydia) in women may be undetected until too late and it’s associated with increased risk of infertility and miscarriages.
Some STIs, like genital herpes, gonorrhea, and chlamydia, for example, often have few to no symptoms. Getting tested is the ONLY way to know if you have an STI. Many people don’t even know they have an infection which greatly contributes to a higher rate of transmission.
Testing best practices for anyone who is sexually active:
- Those in a committed relationship with one partner should get tested annually.
- Those sexually active with multiple or unfamiliar partners should be tested every 3-6 months.
- Sexually active gay or bisexual men with multiple partners should be tested for HIV every three months.
- Those who share needles to inject drugs should be tested every three months for HIV.
What Does a Positive Result Mean?
While a positive result can be upsetting, it’s important to know that many sexually transmitted infections are curable, which is why it’s critical to consult with your medical provider to determine the best treatment and to get started on that treatment right away. Additionally, re-testing is as important as adhering to a medication regimen as part of any STI treatment plan.
These 4 STIs are currently not curable:
- Herpes (HSV)
- Hepatitis B (HBV)
- Human immunodeficiency virus (HIV)
- Human papillomavirus (HPV)
Thanks to years of research and several tried-and-true medications, you CAN continue to have sexual relationships responsibly by taking precautions and being compliant with a prescribed course of treatment. Knowing your status is critical when it comes to eliminating the chances of STI transmission, especially when it comes to HIV.