What’s the Importance of STI Testing and Who Needs One?
Did you know one in five people in the U.S. have a sexually transmitted infection (STI)? The latest CDC research suggests that 68 million STIs were diagnosed among Americans in 2018. Even more concerning, almost half of all new STIs occur in people aged 15 to 24.
So what can you do to stay safe? While prevention is key, STI testing is one of the best tools for preventing the further spread of STIs. Knowing if you have an infection and getting the appropriate treatment also prevents complications and keeps your symptoms from getting worse.
April is National STI Awareness Month, so there’s no better time to talk about getting tested for STIs. In this article, we’ll explore what STI testing is, who needs it, and where you can get tested.
What is STI Testing and Why is it Important?
An STI test is used to help identify the presence of infections that are typically spread when someone is sexually active. Getting tested allows you to take control of your health, keep your partner or partners safe, and have peace of mind.
Many STIs don’t cause noticeable symptoms right away, which means you can spread the infection to a partner without knowing it. An STI test lets you know if you should be worried and allows you to share this important information with your partner.
STI testing also allows you to get prompt treatment if you have an infection. Many STIs lead to long-term negative complications and can have a major impact on your health if left untreated. For example, untreated chlamydia can lead to pelvic inflammatory disease and infertility in women.
Although no one wants to be diagnosed with an STI, getting tested means you’re able to get treated much sooner. Since most STIs are either curable or highly treatable once they’re diagnosed, the difference can be life-saving.
Who Should Get Tested for STIs?
Getting tested for STIs is a personal choice. However, anyone who is sexually active, especially those with multiple partners, should get tested regularly. The CDC recommends the following for sexually active individuals:
- Anyone ages 13-64 should have an HIV test at least once.
- All sexually active women under 25 years old should be tested for gonorrhea and chlamydia annually. Plus annual testing for women over 25 with risk factors or multiple partners.
- Anyone who is pregnant should be tested for syphilis, HIV, and hepatitis B and C
- All sexually active gay and bisexual men should be tested yearly for syphilis, chlamydia, gonorrhea, and HIV. Those with multiple partners should be tested more frequently, as often as every three to six months.
- Anyone at risk for infection or who shares needles should be tested for HIV yearly.
- Anyone who engages in oral or anal sex should speak with their doctor about throat and rectal testing.
Aside from these recommendations, it’s also a good idea to get tested before (and after if both partners aren’t tested) being sexually active with a new partner. Having this discussion might feel awkward, but it’s one of the best ways to stay safe and prevent STIs.
You should also get tested if you are experiencing symptoms of an STI. This includes but is not limited to:
- Rash, warts, lumps, skin growths, and/or itching around the genitals
- Pain when peeing
- Blisters or sores around the genitals or anus
- Unusual vaginal bleeding or discharge
- Unusual discharge from the penis or anus
What STIs Can I Get Tested For?
According to the World Health Organization (WHO), there are more than 30 different kinds of STIs. While some are much more common than others, anyone can get infected with one or more types. STIs are caused by bacteria, viruses, and even parasites.
Fortunately, you can get tested for all the most common STIs. This includes:
- Pubic lice
Where to Get Tested for STIs?
If you think you need an STI test, you have many options, ranging from visiting the doctor to the comfort of your home. Each option has benefits to consider.
For many women, the OB-GYN is a convenient choice. Certain tests, such as a pap smear for HPV can be done as part of a routine visit.
Another option is a sexual health clinic like Planned Parenthood or your local health department. You can often get free or low-cost testing without insurance at these locations. But not all of them offer STI testing services, so be sure to call before visiting.
You can also order at-home STI test kits if you’re uncomfortable with visiting the doctor. This can be a good way to test yourself before becoming sexually active with a new partner or if you aren’t experiencing symptoms but want peace of mind. These tests can be expensive compared to other options. Although many at-home STI testing services also offer treatment, it’s usually best to visit a doctor if you’re having symptoms.
This means urgent care is a great place to go for STI testing. You can get your test performed discreetly and get treatment prescribed by a knowledgeable provider if your test result is positive. Plus, many urgent care services are covered by insurance, so you may not have to pay out of pocket.
Velocity Urgent Care is Here for You
If you’re having STI symptoms or are looking for an STI test near you, Velocity Urgent Care has your back. We offer discreet STI testing at all of our locations across Virginia, giving you peace of mind and a convenient way to get checked.
If your results are positive, we can help you get the treatment you need to alleviate your symptoms and prevent future complications.
Walk in when you’re ready or make an appointment with our convenient online registration portal to skip the waiting room and arrive when it’s your turn to be seen. We even offer text message updates so you can wait in the car (if you prefer) until it’s time for your appointment.
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 our locations also accept Medicare, Medicaid, and Tricare. Veterans Administration beneficiaries are also welcome.
To learn more about our services, locations, hours, and more, visit www.velocityuc.com.