STD and HIV Screening: The Benefits of Testing
If you are a normal person with healthy sexual functioning, screening for STDs may still be as important as popularly considered at-risk sections such as sexually active or those likely to engage in unprotected sex. This is because many sexually transmitted diseases do not have obvious visible symptoms and it becomes tough to detect these without proper screening. Having an honest discussion with your doctor about your sexual background, medical history, and STD testing could save lives and prevent worsening of symptoms. Many clinics even provide confidential or affordable testing so that you can remain safe and secure.
All adults and teens aged 13–64 years of age should be tested once at a minimum for HIV-AIDS. Another disease that needs constant monitoring is chlamydia and gonorrhea for sexually active females younger than twenty-five. Women above 25 with new or many sex partners should also consider testing for these diseases. All pregnant women should also undergo routine screening for syphilis, chlamydia, HIV, and hepatitis B screening for pregnant mothers and gonorrhea linked screening for this demographic as well.
Screening is also recommended by doctors for men having sex with other men [MSM], LGBTI community and those with numerous or anonymous partners. Sexually transmitted diseases can also result from sharing syringes and anyone who has used standard drug injection equipment. Testing for HIV at some recognized testing center like SaferStdTesting.com is also needed in the case of infection from contaminated blood transfusion. Another reason for testing for specific STDs is because a person can have a sexually transmitted disease without having symptoms. That is why some medical professionals use the term STIs or sexually transmitted infections instead.
Kinds of Testing
The type of testing you need to carry out depends on your age, gender, and sexual behavior. Just because you had a gynecological exam or a pap test does not mean that you have received STI testing.
Chlamydia and Gonorrhea
You need to get tested for these infections in case you are a sexually active young girl or woman under 25. Those older than 25 or at risk because of their sexual behaviors such as MSM should also be tested. HIV-positive individuals should also be tested for sexually transmitted diseases. Rape victims should also be tested for these diseases.
This type of screening is done through a urinary test or a swab from the sexual organs of the male/female patient. Screening is imperative because if you lack signs or symptoms, you might still have the infection.
HIV, Syphilis, and Hepatitis C
According to CDC, HIV testing is a must at least once as part of the regular medical care, if you are aged between 15 and 65. Young teens should be tested if they have a high risk of developing these diseases. Hepatitis C screening is for those born in the 1940s to the 1960s, as research has found this disease has a high incidence in these age groups. Vaccines are available for hepatitis A and B. Request for screening for these STIs if you have used IV drugs, had a pregnancy, forced intercourse, or more than one sexual partner since you were last tested.
For this, currently, there are no effective screening tests. Doctors may have to take a tissue scrap or culture of ulcers or blisters. Genital ulcerations mean that herpes could be a cause. A blood test is also there to test for this virus, but it is not always effective.
HPV can lead to cervical forms of cancer and genital warts. While many sexually active persons become infected with HPV at many points, they may develop no symptoms. The virus may disappear within two years. For men, a physical exam is enough to assess if they have HPV. For women, Pap tests may be recommended. The cervix is checked for abnormal cells, and this test is recommended for women between 21 and 65. Women over 30 may require HPV test with the pap test. HPV can also cause throat, mouth vulva, vagina and testicular cancer, so a test is important to save yourself from these life-threatening conditions.
For this, you need to collect a urine sample or an oral or genital swab and send it for lab analysis. Many tests need more than one sample. Bear in mind that self-conducted tests can have a high rate of false positives because you are conducting the test on your own.
If You Test Positive
If you test positive for an STD, the next step is to consider further testing and get treatment as indicated by your medical healthcare professional. You also need to inform your partners so that they can be tested too. Many STIs show mild signs, and this is why people are confused about testing. If your healthcare provider recommends the tests, make sure you go for them.
How Do STI Tests Work?
Getting tested can be a simple and easy process. A blood test or a swab from the mouth or sexual organs is taken for assessing if the sites are infected, and the person has an STD.
When to Test For HIV AIDS?
Behaviors that put you at risk for HIV-AIDS include sex intercourse of any kind (oral or vaginal) without a condom or without being on medicines that prevent/treat the virus. Sharing drug injection equipment with someone can also make for a negative situation as far as protection from HIV-AIDS is concerned. Here are the questions you need to answer if you want to know
whether you should get screened for HIV:
- Injected any drugs such as steroids, hormones, or silicone?
- Shared any equipment such as needles and syringes with others?
- Exchanged sex for drugs or cash?
- Diagnosed with or sought treatment for STD like syphilis?
- Treated for Hepatitis or TB?
- Engaged in unprotected sex?
- If you have had unsafe sexual intercourse or shared injection drug equipment, getting tested is a must. Sexually active gay and bisexual men should also get tested every 3 to 6 months.
Planning on pregnancy? Then both you and your partner should get tested for HIV because there are medications which can be used to prevent AIDS from being passed on to your child.
There's no reason to not get tested
Testing becomes easier each year, and it makes little sense to put off the chore. Today, there are even rapid DIY HIV tests available. Testing for STIs needs to be a matter of course for most people. Doing so keeps one safe, and it keeps one's loved ones free of risk.
Samantha Preston works as a sexual health and contraceptive nurse, specializing in working with those under the age of 25. Always keen to inform and educate, Sam writes articles on sexual health topics which appear around the web.
HIV-AIDS and STI are dangerous diseases and just because it is often embarrassing to talk to your healthcare provider, many people don't get screened. World bodies such as WHO recommend screening for STDs for at-risk population. Getting tested can not only save your life but prevent you from passing on the diseases to others.