STD Awareness Month: Get Tested, Stay Safe

Millions of people in the U.S. deal with an STD (or STI) each year. That number continues to grow as STDs become more prevalent in society. This is true for younger age groups, including those in the 15 to 24-year-old range as well as older groups like seniors 65 years and older.

Each year, April is celebrated as STD Awareness and Prevention Month. Although this is something you should always focus on if you’re sexually active, now is a great time to brush up on tips to keep you and your partners healthy. STD Awareness Month is also the perfect time to come in for an STD test. Doing so can better equip you to make safe, healthy choices when engaging in sex.

When Should I Get Tested for an STD?

In short, there is no wrong answer to this question. If you are sexually active (especially for people with more than one partner), it is never a bad idea to get an STD test. Even if you aren’t having symptoms, you could have an STD or STI lying dormant that could cause problems down the road or spread to your partner. Getting tested for STDs regularly is the only way to know for certain you don’t have one.

Of course, if you are having symptoms of an STD or STI, getting tested is a must. Symptoms can include things like:

  • Pain or burning with urination
  • Frequent urination
  • Unusual or new discharge from your penis or vagina
  • New sores or warts in the genital area
  • Redness or itching in the genital area

This isn’t all the symptoms of STDs as the many different types can present with their own unique symptoms. However, if you are experiencing one or more of these, you should definitely get tested.

What are the Most Common STDs?

According to the National Library of Medicine’s MedlinePlus, there are more than 20 types of STDs known today. Some are more common than others. Many are easy to treat when detected while others have no cure or are very resistant to treatment.

The most common is human papillomavirus, better known as HPV. CDC data suggests that more than 80 million people in the U.S. alone are infected with HPV. This makes it very likely that you’ll encounter an infected individual if you are having sex.

HPV can’t be cured with medication, but most infections do clear up on their own. It can, however, lead to cervical and oral cancer. This makes the prevention of HPV very important. Fortunately, the HPV vaccine can help prevent infections in both men and women.

Chlamydia is another very common STD. It is the most reported given that it typically is associated with symptoms that prompt people to seek care. If caught, chlamydia can generally be treated (and cured) with antibiotics.

Gonorrhea is also quite common. Like chlamydia, it can be treated with antibiotics if it is identified early. If left untreated, it can lead to more serious conditions, such as pelvic inflammatory disease.

How to Prevent STDs While Staying Sexually Active

The only way to truly prevent an STD is by not having sex. However, that isn’t realistic for the majority of people today.

That being said, the focus should be on practicing safe sex to help decrease your chances of getting an STD. Using a condom is one of the most effective steps. This creates a physical barrier that can ward off most STDs if used correctly. This means wearing the condom during any and all sexual activity, including things like oral sex and anal sex.

Meanwhile, being sexually active with only one partner, who is also only sexually active with you, can decrease your risk of getting an STD. This is even more effective if you both get tested for STDs prior to having sex for the first time. If you both test negative, this is one of the most effective ways of preventing STDs.

Finally, getting vaccinated against HPV is a great step toward preventing one of the most common STDs out there. Keep in mind the HPV vaccine is most effective if given between 11 and 12 years of age. However, it can still be beneficial for anyone up to the age of 26 if you aren’t already vaccinated.

How to Get Tested for STDs at Velocity Urgent Care

Getting an STD test should be a simple, easy, and confidential process.

At Velocity Urgent Care, it is.

  • You can walk in or schedule an appointment online at a time that works best for you. Whether you suspect you have an STD or just want to play it safe, we are here to help.
  • Our providers are also happy to answer questions you have about getting tested, treated, or how to prevent an STD in the future. Velocity Urgent Care offers a safe space to get tested free of judgment and stigma.
  • If your results come back positive, we’ll help you determine the best treatment to get you on the road to recovery. Don’t put your health at risk by not getting tested.
  • We offer convenient online registration that helps you limit your contact with others during a visit. You can sign up for an appointment online ahead of time and arrive when it’s time to be seen to skip the waiting room. We even offer text message updates so you can wait in the car (if you prefer) until it’s time for your appointment.
  • In light of the COVID-19 pandemic, we are taking serious safety precautions to ensure that our locations are as clean as possible. We’ve put strict sterilization protocols into place and are carefully handling patients who may be contagious to ensure that each one of our clinics is safe for those who need urgent medical care or occupational health services.
  • Velocity Urgent Care is an in-network provider for most major insurance plans, meaning you can be seen for the cost of your co-pay and deductible. All of our locations also accept Medicare, Medicaid, and Tricare. Veterans Administration beneficiaries are also welcome.

To find out more about our services, locations, hours, and more, visit www.velocityuc.com.