Sexually Transmitted Infections (STIs) are very common. There are dozens of types of sexually transmitted infections. Often there are no symptoms, at least not at first. If left untreated, STIs can cause serious health issues. 

 The good news is all STIs, including HIV, are treatable, and many are curable.

If you are sexually active, getting tested for STIs is one of the most important things you can do to protect your health. STI testing does not always happen as part of a regular checkup or gynecological exam. Make sure you have an open and honest conversation about your sexual history and other STI risk with your doctor. To know for sure your STI status, ask to be tested.

Getting tested is quick and easy. Your provider may take a blood sample, swab, or urine sample. For swabs, there are three sites that your provider may test for: throat, rectum, and genitals. Depending on the type of sex you’re having and if you think you have been exposed to an STI, your provider may choose the best STI test(s) that meets your sexual health needs. 

If you are not comfortable talking with your regular health care provider about STIs, there are many clinics that provide confidential and free or low-cost testing.  Find the nearest testing site to you here.

What STI testing should you get?

Below is a brief overview of  STI Testing Recommendations:

  • All adults and adolescents from ages 13 to 64 should be tested at least once for HIV.
  • All sexually active women younger than 25 years should be tested for gonorrhea and chlamydia every year. Women 25 years and older with risk factors such as new or multiple sex partners or a sex partner who has an STI should also be tested for gonorrhea and chlamydia every year.
  • All pregnant women should be tested for syphilis, HIV, and hepatitis B starting early in pregnancy. At-risk pregnant women should also be tested for chlamydia and gonorrhea starting early in pregnancy. Testing should be repeated as needed to protect the health of mothers and their infants.
  • All sexually active gay and bisexual men should be tested at least once a year for syphilis, chlamydia, and gonorrhea. Those who have multiple or anonymous partners should be tested more frequently for STIs (i.e., at 3- to 6-month intervals).
  • Sexually active gay and bisexual men may benefit from more frequent HIV testing (e.g., every 3 to 6 months).
  • Anyone who has unsafe sex or shares injection drug equipment should get tested for HIV and HCV at least once a year.

Chlamydia

Chlamydia is one of the most common STIs with an estimated 1.7 million new cases a year in the U.S. Many people who have chlamydia do not know it. Often there are no symptoms. If left untreated, chlamydia can cause infertility and pain in both women and men. Once diagnosed, it is easily cured with antibiotics.

Gonorrhea

Gonorrhea is common especially among teens and people in their 20s. Sometimes called “the clap” or “the drip,” gonorrhea may not show symptoms. Left untreated, it can cause infertility and pain in both women and men. Once diagnosed, it is easily cured with antibiotics.

Hepatitis

Hepatitis is a serious but preventable illness that affects the liver.There are three major kinds of this liver disease, hepatitis A, B, and C and each one spreads in a different way.There are many ways you can reduce your chances of getting hepatitis: Get the vaccines for hepatitis A and hepatitis B. Use a condom during sex. Don’t share needles to take drugs. Practice good personal hygiene such as thorough hand-washing. Don’t use an infected person’s personal items. Some types of hepatitis are curable.

Herpes

Herpes is an STI that can cause sores on the genitals and/or mouth. An estimated 1 in 6 people in the U.S. has genital herpes and there is no cure. Still, prescription medication can ease symptoms and lower the chances of passing the virus to others. Herpes can be painful but usually does not lead to serious health problems.

HPV

HPV is the most common STI with an estimated 14 million new cases in the U.S. each year. There are more than 150 different types of HPV, and while some forms of HPV cause genital warts, many do not show any symptoms. The HPV vaccine protects against certain types that are associated with genital warts and cervical cancer.

Syphilis

Syphilis is an STI that often does not show any symptoms. Left untreated, it can cause permanent damage, like blindness or paralysis. Syphilis is transmitted from person to person by direct contact with a syphilitic sore, known as a chancre. Transmission of syphilis can occur during vaginal, anal, or oral sex. In addition, pregnant women with syphilis can transmit the infection to their unborn child. Congenital syphilis (syphilis passed from pregnant women to their babies) is a great concern in the United States.  Once diagnosed, it is easily cured with antibiotics

Trichomoniasis  

Trichomoniasis, sometimes called “trich” for short, often does not show any symptoms. An estimated 3.7 million people are living with trich in the U.S. Trich is usually not serious and can be cured in most cases. Once diagnosed, it is easily cured with antibiotics.