Everyone who is sexually active should be screened for STDs at some point — but which tests, and when, depend on your personal risk factors. But if it is recommended, and you do get diagnosed, there is some good news: Most STDs are curable, and all of them are treatable. In the absence of symptoms, the only way to diagnose an STI is to screen for it.
The most common STI in the U. When genital warts are present, we can usually make a diagnosis from inspection, but additional testing is sometimes useful, and can include biopsy or colposcopy in women. Infections are caused by oral, anal, or genital contact with someone else who has an infection.
Syphilis is a bacterial infection passed from one person to another by oral, anal, or genital contact with infectious but painless sores that are present during the initial stages of the infection. There are two strains of the herpes virus: Type 1 has traditionally been associated with oral herpes cold sores and type 2 with genital herpes, but recent research has shown that most genital infections are also caused by type 1.
Herpes is most commonly transmitted via contact with infectious sores, but in some cases can be transmitted when the infected person has no symptoms at all. Because a person can be contagious even though no lesions are present, taking precautions only when there are visible lesions may not prevent spread of the infection to the partner. This viral infection is transmitted via blood e. Very rarely, it can be transmitted by contact with other body fluids. Hepatitis C is a viral infection that is transmitted most commonly through contact with blood or through skin exposure e.
Very uncommonly, hepatitis C can be contracted by having sex with someone who has hepatitis C; the risk is about 1 transmission per , sexual occurrences. This infection can cause chronic liver disease and liver cancer. Hepatitis B is also a viral infection, transmitted by blood or semen, that can cause liver disease. Getting a screening test means that we look for an infection when you may not have any symptoms. There are no exact recommended times or tests that we recommend for everyone.
These testing recommendations depend on your lifestyle and risk level. Most importantly, get tested to protect yourself, your partner s , and to stay informed. Getting a diagnosis can alert you to an infection you may not know you had e. It can also allow you to start treatment if you do have an infection, and create peace of mind when you think you may have been at risk.
Most tests require a urine or blood sample, or a swab of the area where the infection might be present. If you have a sore and we want to pinpoint the cause, a swab can additionally identify whether a specific virus or bacteria is present. There are a few downsides to testing for everything that are important to consider. First of all, tests are expensive, and in a few cases, such as blood testing for herpes, a positive test can be a false positive.
False positives may result in unnecessary anxiety when there may be virtually no risk of transmission and no required treatment. Here are some instances that would prompt a screening test: We recommend an HIV test for everyone who is sexually active. We also suggest women obtain a test for gonorrhea and chlamydia, because, unlike men, they frequently harbor these infections without developing symptoms.
Generally, that means about every 6 months or more depending on your personal situation. You engage in high-risk sexual behavior. High-risk behavior includes intimate contact with a sex worker, IV drug user, men who have sex with men, and having multiple partners, or anonymous partners.
Because many baby boomers people born between and may have contracted hepatitis C before we even knew the virus existed and could test for it, and because they may have no symptoms of infection, we recommend all baby boomers be tested once for hepatitis C. This is a good time to have a discussion with your health care provider. Your symptoms and history will allow you to make the best choice about the most informative tests to look for possible causes of your symptoms.
Any general advice posted on our blog, website, or app is for informational purposes only and is not intended to replace or substitute for any medical or other advice. If you have specific concerns or a situation arises in which you require medical advice, you should consult with an appropriately trained and qualified medical services provider.