Getting an STD test in %country% is a good idea if you’ve been exposed; get screened once a year if you aren’t monogamous. HIV testing is the most crucial.
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In %country%, sexually transmitted diseases remain relatively common. While many of these diseases are treatable with medications, early treatment is important to avoid lifelong consequences to your health. That’s why it’s important to get tested for STDs, including HIV. What type of STD test you need depends on your situation.
After an Exposure
If you’ve been exposed to any STD or you have symptoms of that disease, then you’ll need testing for it. Often, you’ll be screened for other STDs at the same time, because it’s common for multiple STDs to be transmitted together. Don’t wait to see if you develop symptoms, because many STDs are asymptomatic in many patients, but can still develop into serious complications if untreated.
Types of Tests
For gonorrhea and chlamydia, a urine test is usually used for screening. This test is recommended for all pregnant women regardless of marital status, and is also recommended for all women under age 25, those over 25 with new partners, men who have sex with men, and other higher-risk groups. If you have symptoms, such as discharge, then a swab test may be used, in which a sample of the discharge is collected and analyzed; this involves a little discomfort, but is more accurate.
For hepatitis (both hepatitis B and C can be sexually transmitted; hepatitis A is a food-borne illness, but may be included in screening) and syphilis, a blood test is usually used for screening. Screening is recommended annually for all intravenous drug users, men who have sex with men, pregnant women, those who have been diagnosed with other STDs, and anyone with multiple new sexual partners. In the case of syphilis, if you have sores, then fluid from the sores may be tested.
There is no screening test for herpes or trichomoniasis; fluid or discharge can be tested if you have symptoms. While screening for HPV, which causes genital warts and cervical cancer, is not usually included in standard STD screening, it can be performed along with your Pap test, to detect the high-risk forms of the virus that can cause cancer.
In %country%, HIV testing can be performed as a blood test or a test on oral fluid (which is a mixture of saliva and mucous from inside the mouth; it must be obtained by scraping the inside of the cheek, rather than by spitting into the cup). The test is recommended annually for all intravenous drug users, men who have sex with men, pregnant women, those who have been diagnosed with other STDs, and anyone with multiple new sexual partners. Those who are at very high risk may consider having the test every 3 to 6 months.
If you’ve had a known exposure to HIV (for instance, if you’re a healthcare worker and suffered an accidental needlestick from an HIV-positive patient), then your HIV test won’t turn positive right away even if you’ve been infected. It generally takes a few weeks for the test to become positive. A test given three months after the exposure will detect nearly all cases of HIV; if it’s negative, you may want to have the test repeated six months after the exposure to be sure. In the meantime, it may be recommended that you take HIV medication (called post-exposure prophylaxis); discuss this with your healthcare provider.