In the 21st century, STDs are a fact of life. At this time, the best way to ensure a healthy populace is by way of regular testing. The process isn’t painful, nor is it complicated. It is, however, an imperative procedure that should be done before embarking on any sort of sexual adventure with anyone. If you are a sexually active man, when was the last time you were tested for HIV and other sexually transmitted infections?
Diseases that can be transmitted by sexual contact
Most, but not all STDs are shared by sexual partners when they exchange bodily fluids including semen, vaginal secretions and even blood. STDs are transmitted via traditional intercourse, oral and anal sex and/or any sort of genital contact, whether straight, gay or bisexual. Some STDs, such as hepatitis, may be spread without any sexual contact at all. Blood transfusions, shared needles and childbirth are all ways that some STDs may be transmitted from one person to another.
Gonorrhea, syphilis, chlamydia, herpes, trichomoniasis and HIV are common sexually transmitted infections. Symptoms may include sores on the genitals or mouth, painful or burning urination, a feeling of uncomfortable fullness in the abdomen and vaginal or penile discharge, says Mayo Clinic.
If you think you don’t have an STD simply because you don’t have symptoms, please think again. Many people look and feel perfectly healthy even though their body is harboring the HIV virus, gonorrhea, chlamydia or another sexually transmitted disease.
Kinds of STD tests and what they entail
Chlamydia and gonorrhea tests are recommended for sexually active women under the age of 25, for women over 25 who have multiple sex partners or are planning to engage in sexual activity with a new partner. Men who have had sex with men since their last STD test and any person forced into sexual activity should also be tested, says Mayo Clinic. Testing for gonorrhea and chlamydia may be performed with a swab of the penis or vagina or via urinalysis.
HIV, syphilis and hepatitis are generally diagnosed after a blood test has been analyzed in a laboratory. A swab of any existing genital sores may also be performed to evaluate for the presence of syphilis.
A herpes test is difficult to perform unless the patient has active, open sores on or around their genital area. Type 1 herpes is the type that causes oral chancres, while Type 2 is the sort of herpes that causes painful and recurrent genital sores. Either kind can infect both the mouth and the genitals, and false positives and negatives are common.
Some types of HPV, or human papillomavirus, cause genital warts and can be a precursor to cervical cancer. HPV testing for women involves Pap testing for females between the ages of 21 and 65 and a standard HPV test for sexually active women older than 30. HPV testing may be performed at the same time as a Pap test. There is no HPV test readily available to men at the time of the writing.
Where to get an STD test
There are one or more STD testing clinics in most major cities in America. Safer STD testing offers STD clinics in more than 4,000 locations. Call your local health department or check the Safer STD Testing website to find an STD testing facility near you. Safer doesn’t require appointments, and your test results may be available as soon as the next day. Planned Parenthood also offers testing for some, but not all sexually transmitted infections and diseases.
HIV and STD prevention
Community based STD testing is an effective way to identify persons in need of treatment, and so are mobile testing clinics, says the National Institutes of Health. Once a person knows that they’re safe, they ought to protect themselves by using a latex condom every time they have sex with a new or untested partner.
The only 100 percent effective way to ensure non-infection is to totally abstain from any sort of sex play. Barring that, a mutually monogamous relationship is the way to go to avoid STD transmission. Oral sex may be somewhat less dangerous than unprotected vaginal or anal intercourse, but partners may wish to use a dental dam as an added precaution.
Sex can be a wonderful adult activity, but we must all take responsibility for our own sexual health as well as the health and happiness of our partners.
Finley Burton works in the healthcare industry and has experience working with young adults and teens at a family planning clinic. Mostly answering their questions and concerns on STD’s and contraceptives, Finley is now eager to reach a wider online audience so has started writing his informative articles.