If you’re a regular reader here, you know it isn’t a question. Yes, you do need to get STD testing.  Chances are the world’s a different place than you remember, but that old rule to err on the side of caution holds true.  Still, it’s an uncomfortable subject.  Doesn’t seem like the sort of thing you can bring up in casual conversation during a football game.

So don’t.

We’ve assembled some options, and we’re prepared to give you a nuts and bolts tour.  Once you have the knowledge, you can make the best decision for yourself, realizing that it isn’t a question of if, but more of a how and when.  Take some advice from Mark Twain.  “If you have to swallow a frog, don’t stare at it too long.”

Analyze Your Risk

Sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) are common, but not everyone needs every test.  It’s a matter of looking at your risk factors and choosing tests that make sense for you.  Many STD testing services offer package deals, so you have the chance to be one and done.

Sexually Transmitted Diseases: Get Specific

Chlamydia

A bacterial infection, easily cured with antibiotics, chlamydia is a silent infection.  One of the most common STDs, chlamydia hides in plain sight and seven out of ten people never even know they have it.  In spite of that, it’s easily spread with or without symptoms.  Protect yourself by using a condom, but plan on testing for this easily treated infection.  Every year, close to three million Americans between the ages of 18 and 24 contract the infection.

Gonorrhea

You’ve probably heard its slang name.  The Clap.  Like chlamydia, gonorrhea is a bacterial infection.  And like chlamydia, there are oftentimes no symptoms.  When symptoms do appear, they can attack multiple sites, causing infections in the genitals, rectum and throat.

You should test for chlamydia and gonorrhea if:

  •  You or your partner have had unprotected sex.
  • You are a man having sex with another man.
  • You have HIV.
  • You’ve engaged in sexual activity against your will.

The screening is done in one of two ways:  a urine test or a swab inside the penis.  The sample is sent to a laboratory for analysis.  If there are no symptoms, screening is the only way to determine you’re safe.

Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV)

HIV is not AIDS (Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome).  But, if left untreated, HIV can lead to AIDS.  HIV is a lifetime virus; there is no cure.  Like many other chronic conditions, HIV is a managed and controlled condition.  Early detection is the key, and the only way to diagnose for certain is to be tested.  Some people in the early stages of infection may not exhibit any symptoms.  Others may experience classic flu-like symptoms.  Testing is the only method of certain diagnosis.

Hepatitis A, B, C, D & E

Hepatitis A

The result of ingesting water or food infected with the virus HAV (Hepatitis A Virus).  It can also be transmitted through anal-oral contact via sexual intercourse.  Once diagnosed and treated, full recovery is expected.

Hepatitis B

Caused by the virus HBV (Hepatitis B Virus), it’s spread by the sharing of body fluids.  This can occur in unprotected sex as well as the sharing of needles.  Hepatitis B isn’t as easily vanquished, and some people experience swelling of the liver and lifelong chronic infections.

Hepatitis C

The Hepatitis C Virus (HCV) spreads in a similar fashion to HBV.  In these cases, however, most individuals experience a chronic infection as well as liver damage such as scarring of the liver, or cirrhosis.

Hepatitis D

If you already have Hepatitis B, you can get infected with Hepatitis D (HDV).  Like many other forms of STDs, it is spread by unprotected sex with someone infected with HDV.

Hepatitis E

This form of hepatitis isn’t often seen in the U.S.  It’s most commonly caused by drinking water tainted with Hepatitis E Virus (HEV), but it can also be spread through oral-anal contact.

Syphilis

Syphilis is another STD that can be passed as a result of unprotected sex.  Known as the “great imitator,” the sores can mimic an ingrown hair, or perhaps a zipper cut, or a bump that seems harmless.  Left untreated, syphilis can affect the eyes and eventually even cause blindness.

Again, screening protocols call for a blood test to determine if you have HIV or hepatitis.  A blood test is also standard for syphilis, as is a swab from a genital sore.

You Should Test for HIV, Hepatitis and Syphilis if:

  • You have engaged in unprotected sex.
  • You have tested positive for another STD.  You’re at higher risk.
  • You’ve had multiple sex partners.
  • You use intravenous drugs.
  • You’ve engaged in sexual activity against your will.
  • You are a man having sex with another man.

Herpes

Herpes is problematic, as symptoms don’t always present. Herpes Simplex-2, or HSV-2, is also known as genital herpes.  It is a chronic condition that is spread through sexual contact.  Infected individuals can experience episodic bouts of genital lesions.  Testing is handled through both blood tests and viral cultures.

You Should Test for Herpes if:

 It looks like you have genital sores.

  • If your partner had herpes.
  • If you have multiple partners.

 DIY or Professional STD Testing

 In the Privacy of Your Own Home

 If you’ve ever picked up one of those water testing kits from a big box home improvement store, you’re familiar with the concept.  In the privacy of your own home, you collect a urine sample or swipe a swab, do a finger stick for a few drops of blood, and send it off to the lab for analysis.  Just like the water tests, the rates of false-positives can be higher.  As all tests are not created equal, it may indicate the presence of something that isn’t really there.  In many cases, a positive test means you need to head to the doctor or public health clinic, and you’re back to square one.  Some tests do provide medical consultations if you happen to test positive for an STD.  At home kits can cost a few hundred dollars (for multiple tests) and typically do not participate with health insurance plans.  We’ve included a few to check out below:

www.mylabbox.com  – Offers diagnostic testing and results as well as treatment consultations via telemedicine.  The Total Box, complete with 10 Panel STD Test Pack is $399.  According to mylabbox.com, their screening methods are either FDA-approved, or those approved by a lab affiliate.

www.home-hiv-tests.com  – Offers an a la carte menu of tests starting at $24.95, as well as a package of seven for $159.95  Their website offers an HIV test which they report is more than 99% accurate.

Testing Centers

 There are nationwide testing centers that offer quick testing and turnaround.  Some provide a questionnaire to assist you in choosing the best test for your situation.  Positive results entitle you to a phone consultation with a doctor.  If you’ve tested positive for gonorrhea or chlamydia, the doctor may choose to write you a prescription.  Other centers provide quick testing and have doctors on staff to consult if you have positive results.  Tests are chosen from an a la carte menu and can start at just over $100.  Packages with multiple tests are available for a higher fee.  Here are a few nationwide options to check out:

www.stdcheck.com

With more than 4,000 testing centers nationwide, all tests are FDA-approved and quick to boot, offering both same day and two-day testing.  Positive test results are provided with a doctor’s consultation.

www.requestatest.com

Affordable direct to consumer lab testing.  Same day testing is also available, and lab results are presented online.

www.onlinestdcheckup.com

Benefits include same day testing with results back in 1-2 days at one of 4,000 centers across the U.S.  Free doctor’s consultation is offered with positive test results.

Free Testing Clinics

A quick online search can yield several possibilities for no cost testing options.  These clinics operate more as a public health service and oftentimes provide healthcare for those who can’t afford it elsewhere.

gettested.cdc.gov

This site offers a variety of tests including STDs.  Here you can select a test, get the doctor’s order, visit the lab closest to you, and receive your results online via private account.  You can’t do this in Maryland, New York, New Jersey, Rhode Island or Massachusetts.  State laws there require a prescription from your personal physician.

However, you can be tested in a neighboring state.  The test results are valid and should be accepted by any healthcare professional.

http://www.freestdcheck.org/

This site is run by the AIDS Healthcare Foundation and offers free testing.  Walk-ins are accepted to provide testing when you need it, without an appointment.

Best Option?  It Comes Down to Personal Choice

Most Privacy:  Home testing kit.  Order online, results delivered online as well.  Not all kits are the same, read carefully before you choose and pick a kit with solid testing practices.

Most Hands Off:  Testing clinics or your doctor’s office.  Your personal doctor will have a record of the visit and it will be in your file.  He or she is already familiar with your health history and can offer good advice.  Testing clinics don’t run through your insurance, so there is a degree of privacy, but no benefits will be applied.  Some include doctor consultations, but you’ll need to fill in the doc regarding your past history.

Most Inexpensive:  Free clinics.  In addition to the sites listed above, you can do a search for free testing in your local area.  Some are linked to clinics that advocate for unplanned pregnancies.

Bottom Line:  Get It Done

Regardless of which facility you choose, the end result is what matters.  Getting yourself tested will benefit you by making you an informed adult.  In all cases, it will improve the quality of your life.  No nagging doubts.  No what ifs.  If treatment is in order, you follow the plan and move on with your life.  It’s what responsible smart men do.

 

STD testing is important.

Share this information on your social media.

 Guyvorce has your back. See Why You Need to Get Tested for STDs If You Want to Start Dating and Winning Strategies for Sex After Divorce.

 


(c) Can Stock Photo / ibreakstock

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