How Do I Know Which STD Test I Need?

Table of Contents

How Do I Know Which STD Test I Need?

Today, more than 30 STDs and STIs are known to be existent,[1] making it sometimes confusing to know which test you should get and when. In order to prevent yourself of acquiring an STD or transmitting it to another person, it is important that if you are a sexually active person, and aren’t involved in a long-stable monogamous relationship such as marriage, you as well as the person you are with, confirm do not possess any STD or STI to transmit each other.

Please take note that in case you have had sexual activity with multiple sex partners (+1 person during your lifetime or in the last 12 months) [2] your risk of contracting an STD increases depending on the quantity of sex activities,[3] making it even more important to get yourself tested.

Which STD Test Do I Need?

There is no single STD test that covers the entire spectrum of known diseases. Instead, there are multiple test types that can be used both when symptoms are present and when they are not. These tests are used for the most common STDs depending on your age, sexual behavior, sex and other factors. In all cases, you should seek advice from your doctor.[4]

Human Papillomavirus (HPV) Testing

Since a certain type of HPV can lead to cancer, while others lead to genital warts, it’s highly important to detect the presence of the virus as early as possible. Please note that there is no current test available for men. Instead, a diagnosis is reached through visual inspection and a biopsy of genital warts. For women, who carry a greater risk of developing cancer as a result of HPV, the American Cancer Society (ACS) recommends that women between the ages of 21 and 29, should perform a PAP test every 3 years, and a HPV test after an abnormal Pap test result. In the case of women over the age of 30, the ACS recommends a combination of the Pap test and an HPV test (Co-testing) every 5 years to test for cervical cancer and HPV.[5]

HIV, Hepatitis and Syphilis Testing

The CDC recommends that every person between 13 and 64 years old get tested for HIV at least once as part of routine health care [6]. Additionally, it is recommended to request testing for these STDs once per year if you:

  • Have engaged in sexual intercourse with multiple partners
  • Plan to or are already pregnant
  • Previously tested positive for a different form of STD in the past
  • Have used intravenous drugs
  • Are a man and have sex with another man (MSM)
  • Have been coerced or forced into participating in a sexual activity Additionally

If you are actively practicing homosexual sex activities, specially (MSM) you should be aware that are at a higher risk of contracting HIV in comparison with other populations (22 times)[7] and may benefit from testing every 3 to 6 months.[8]

Chlamydia and Gonorrhea Testing

You should be tested annually for chlamydia and gonorrhea, two of the most common STDs, if you are a sexually active women under 25 years of age, or older but at increased risk (practicing sex activities with a new person or more than 1 in the last 12 months), or men and has performed any sex activity with another men. Have been previously diagnosed with HIV/AIDS. Have been coerced or forced into participating in a sexual activity. Additionally, if you were positive, you should perform a new confirming test 3 months after receiving treatment.[9]

Genital Herpes Testing

Some tests used to screen and diagnose genital herpes are PCR and cell culture.[10] If symptoms such as blisters or ulcers are present, your doctor may scrape some tissue and send for further examination in lab, however these tests do not rule out the presence of the virus even when providing negative results, as they can result in a false-negative value if the sores have stated to heal or if the infection was very recent.[11] A blood test may be used in conjunction with the tissue test in order to improve accuracy and differentiate between the two types of genital herpes.

Important: Get tested if you can identify symptoms or suspect that you’ve been infected with an STD.

FAQ

 

Written by Tommy Gonzales on March 14, 2020

Resources

  1. Sexually transmitted infections (STIs) - who.int (World Health Organization)

  2. Global AIDS response progress reporting 2015 - unaids.org

  3. Sex activities and risk - nhs.uk

  4. STD testing: What’s right for you? - mayoclinic.org

  5. HPV and HPV Testing

  6. HIV Testing - cancer.org

  7. half of new HIV infections now among key populations - unaids.org

  8. HIV Testing - cdc.gov

  9. Screening Recommendations and Considerations Referenced in Treatment Guidelines and Original Sources - cdc.gov

  10. Tests to Diagnose Genital Herpes - webmd.com

  11. Diagnosis of genital herpes simplex virus infection in the clinical laboratory - ncbi.nlm.nih.gov


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