If you are sexually active, there is little doubt that you know you need to be tested for STIs (sexually transmitted infections). While you may need to be tested, you do not necessarily have to be tested for one disease as frequently as another.
Use the following information as a general guide to determining when and how often you need to be tested for specific STIs.
• Gonorrhea and Chlamydia – You should be tested annually for both of these infections if you are a sexually active woman under the age of 25, have multiple partners, or are a man in a same-sex relationship.
• HIV – Get tested annually if you have tested positive for gonorrhea or chlamydia, use IV drugs, or are a man in a same-sex relationship. Outside of these circumstances, get tested when you change sexual partners.
• Syphilis – Syphilis is far less common than it once was. You should get tested for syphilis when you are tested for HIV.
• Genital Herpes – There is no reliable test for herpes. Get tested if you think you are having an outbreak.
• Human Papillomavirus – Your gynecologist will test for HPV during your regular pap test. Follow the schedule recommended by your doctor.
Routine testing is the only way true way to detect an STI. If you are or have been sexually active, it is your responsibility to get tested at the appropriate intervals.
If you test positive for an STI, do not panic. The most common infections can be treated and, when not curable, managed with medication. Talk to your doctor about your options.
STIs are common among sexually active people. People often let embarrassment prevent them from being tested and subsequently treated. Do not be embarrassed! STI testing is confidential and, ultimately, essential to your health.