Sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) are on the rise. They’re so common that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates that 20% of people in the United States have an STD at any given time.
While many people can carry an STD without exhibiting any symptoms, those with immune systems incapable of fighting off bacteria, parasites, or viruses may be at risk.
STD testing is often associated with having multiple partners, but STDs can occur in individuals in long-term relationships as well. There’s a growing threat of newborns dying from syphilis, as rates of congenital syphilis have increased. Syphilis testing in pregnant women and treatment with medication can help prevent infant deaths.
When left untreated, STDs can lead to serious health issues such as organ damage, blindness, infertility, and cancer. We asked our medical team at Casa de Salud, led by Dr. Afshin Akhavan, to explain who should get tested for STDs and how often testing is needed.
Before putting together the testing schedule, discuss your risk factors with one of our specialists.
Risk factors for becoming infected include the following:
- Having sex without using condoms
- Sharing needles from illicit drugs
- Having multiple sexual partners
- Having a history of STDs
According to the CDC, sexually active adolescents and adults should get screened at least once per year.
Men who have sex with other men (MSM) and bisexual men should get tested at least once a year or more frequently if there are other risk factors involved.
All pregnant women should get tested early in their pregnancies. If they test positive and undergo treatment, they need to be retested three months after their first test.
Women may also benefit from the testing every few years for cervical cancer and the HPV virus. If you have a stable partner or plan to start a relationship with someone, getting tested may help prevent the spread of disease.
To test individuals for STDs, we collect a blood sample, a urine sample, or use a swab on the inside of the mouth or the genital area.
Preventing and treating STDs
Fortunately, with the advent of antibiotics, STDs caused by bacteria have become curable. And thanks to other types of treatment, even patients diagnosed with viral STDs like HIV can now enjoy longer lives.
However, not all STDs present symptoms, so it’s important to get tested even if you feel well.
If you’re sexually active, we can provide confidential testing for STDs, explain your risk factors, and suggest how often you should get retested. Contact us to schedule an appointment at one of our two offices in Downtown and Adams Normandie, Los Angeles, California.