Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Got STD Testing?

via RH Reality Check, by Kenneth Katz


First, know which tests you need, and how often.

Get the following STD tests every three to six months, if you’re sexually active, regardless of how often you use condoms during sex and even if you’re having no symptoms (since many STDs, including HIV, can cause no symptoms):

    * A test for HIV, if your last test was negative or you’ve never been tested.
    * A blood test for syphilis.
    * A test of your urethra for gonorrhea and chlamydia, if you’ve had insertive anal sex or received oral sex in the past year (or since your last test). The urethra is the tube that takes urine through the penis. In the past, testing meant inserting a swab into the urethra. These days, fortunately, all it takes is a urine sample. The best tests for gonorrhea and chlamydia are called NAATs, pronounced like “gnats” and short for “nucleic acid amplification tests.” Ask for them.
    * A test of your rectum for gonorrhea and chlamydia, if you’ve had receptive anal sex in the past year (or since your last test). This is done with a (painless!) swab that’s inserted into your rectum. It should be tested with NAATs.
    * A test of your throat for gonorrhea, if you’ve given oral sex in the past year (or since your last test). This is also done with a swab. This can be a bit uncomfortable if you’ve got a strong gag reflex, since the swab hits the back of your throat. But it’s not too bad, and it only lasts a second or two. Then it’s tested with NAATs. (Note that CDC doesn’t specifically recommend chlamydia tests of the throat, but in practice most NAATs test for chlamydia and gonorrhea at the same time.)

You should also discuss with your doctor whether blood tests for hepatitis B, hepatitis C, and herpes simplex virus type 2 are right for you.

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