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STD Rates on the Rise: The Truth about STD Testing

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Facts about STDs

According to the CDC, every year 19 million new cases of sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) are diagnosed, making STDs one of the most concerning health challenges for Americans. Every year, sexually transmitted diseases cost the American health care system $17 billion and that dollar figure does not take into account immediate and long-term health consequences.

Did you know that “if you or your partner have one STD, your chances of contracting another STD are greatly increased?”

Did you know that “30% of people infected with Syphilis show no signs or symptoms?”

Did you know that genital herpes will infect 1 in 4 young adults under the age of 35?

Did you know that “50% of all men and 75% of all women with Chlamydia do not even know that they are infected and show no visible signs?” (STD Testing Services)

The good news is that these diseases are treatable and in many cases curable, but if a person doesn’t get tested for STDs they will never get the treatment they need.

Getting an STD Test

Unfortunately, even though the CDC recommends that both sexually active men and women (particularly if they engage in unprotected sex with multiple partners) get tested for sexually transmitted diseases, it is not automatically done at an annual physical. The patient must request the tests.

“Don’t assume that you’re receiving STD testing every time you have a gynecological exam or Pap test.” (MayoClinic)

The kind of STD test you should get depends on a certain set of risk factors.

You should get tested for chlamydia and gonorrhea annually if:

• You’re a sexually active woman/girl under the age of 25
• You’re a woman over 25 who has sex with multiple sexual partners or has just started with a new partner
• You’re a sexually active homosexual man

If you’re between the ages of 13 and 64 the CDC recommends that you get tested for HIV, syphilis and hepatitis at least once during routine medical check-ups, and every year if you have:

• Tested positive for gonorrhea or chlamydia
• Had more than one sexual partner since the previous test
• Used or are using intravenous drugs
• Had homosexual relations with another man

There is currently no screening STD test for genital herpes, or for human papillomavirus (HPV) for men. Women can be screened for HPV through their Pap test or through an HPV test.

Stop Putting off Getting STD Testing

There are many STD testing options. It is important to get tested for STDs so that you don’t spread the virus to your partner.

There are many at-home testing kits that require a urine sample or genital swab which is then sent to a lab for analysis. There are also many clinics that offer free or low-cost STD screening.

Still, even with these easy STD screening options available “[l]ess than half of sexually active young women are screened annually as recommended by CDC ... undetected and untreated STDs can increase a person’s risk for HIV and cause other serious health consequences such as infertility. STD screening ... is one of the most effective tools available to protect one’s health and prevent the spread of STDs to others.” (CDC).


STD Trends in the United States: 2010 National Data for Gonorrhea, Chlamydia, and Syphilis. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Web. Dec 26, 2011. http://www.cdc.gov/std/stats10/trends.htm

STD Testing: What’s right for you? MayoClinic. Web. Dec 26, 2011. http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/std-testing/ID00047

STD Testing at a Glance. Planned Parenthood. Web. Dec 26, 2011. http://www.plannedparenthood.org/health-topics/stds-hiv-safer-sex/std-testing-21695.asp

STD Information: Did you Know? STD Testing Services. Web. Dec 26, 2011. http://www.stdtestingservices.com/std-information

Reviewed December 27, 2011
by Michele Blacksberg RN
Edited by Jody Smith

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We value and respect our HERWriters' experiences, but everyone is different. Many of our writers are speaking from personal experience, and what's worked for them may not work for you. Their articles are not a substitute for medical advice, although we hope you can gain knowledge from their insight.

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