Sexual Health is Self-Care: STI Testing Basics
June 25th, 2021
In the spirit of resuming daily (and nightly!) activities as the uncertainty of living safely amid a global pandemic are finally in the rear-view mirror, now is the perfect time to make self-care, physical and mental a top priority.
Now, more than ever, we cannot throw caution to the wind when it comes to sexual health, which includes taking preventative measures and seeking treatment in a timely manner. Sexually transmitted infections or diseases do not discriminate! Regardless of your age, race, gender identity, or sexual preference, if you are sexually active you are at risk.
“Just the Facts, Folks”
According to the CDC, 1 in 5 Americans are living with a sexually transmitted infection, which impacts over 110 million people. Even more sobering, a recent study in the journal Sexually Transmitted Diseases revealed that there are nearly 20 million new infections each year, and half of those occur among young people (aged 15 to 24). Awareness and education are critical when it comes to keeping our teens and young adults sexually happy and healthy.
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 so important. 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)
The facts can be a little alarming. 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.
Should I Get Tested?
YES! Some STIs, like genital herpes, gonorrhea, and chlamydia, for example, often have few to no symptoms. So 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. STIs can happen to anyone!
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.
The Results Are In!
What does a positive test result mean? The good news is that many sexually transmitted infections are curable, which is why it’s critical to consult with your medical provider to determine the best treatment for you. Re-testing is as important as taking your medication 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)
A positive test result can surely be upsetting, but these are not new diseases. Thanks to years of research and several tried-and-true medications, you CAN continue to have meaningful (or not so meaningful!) sexual relationships provided you act responsibly, take precautions, and adhere to your prescribed course of treatment. Knowing your status is critical when it comes to eliminating the chances of transmission, especially when it comes to HIV.
At CURE Urgent Care, your sexual health is as much a priority to us, as it is to you. We provide a comfortable and confidential option to get tested with results within 3 days via our HIPAA- compliant patient portal. Schedule online or walk-in to one of our convenient locations today!