What STD Should I Test For?
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What STD Should I Test For?

What STD Should I Test For?


Your risk factors determine the type of STD testing you need. Read on to know what test is best for you.

It's a piece of common advice to use protection if you're sexually active and have more than one partner. Why? People may have an STD without knowing it. Most times, sexually transmitted diseases do not show symptoms, which is why many experts use the term sexually transmitted infections (STIs) since you can be infected and asymptomatic (have no symptoms).

The type of STD testing you need and how often you should be screened depends on your sexual behaviour, age, plus other risk factors.

Having a Pap test or gynaecologic exam doesn't mean you're getting tested for STIs. Should you feel, you need STI testing, discuss your concerns with your doctor and the kind of tests you would like.

Specific STI tests

You can follow these guidelines to test for specific sexually transmitted infections.

Gonorrhoea and chlamydia

Go for annual screening if you're:

  • A sexually active woman below 25 years
  • A woman above 25 years and at risk of STIs (for instance if you're having sex with a new partner or several partners)
  • A man sleeping with men
  • HIV-infected
  • A man or woman that's been forced into sexual activity against your will

During chlamydia and gonorrhoea screening, a urine test or a swab from the urethra in men or the cervix in women is needed for laboratory analysis. Screening is essential because you may be asymptomatic yet having an infection.

HIV, hepatitis, and syphilis

Adolescents or adults between the ages of 13 and 64 are encouraged by the Centre for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), to have an HIV testing at least once as part of routine medical care. Young teenagers with a high risk of infection STD should be tested. It is recommended that if you're at high risk of infection, you should go for annual HIV testing.

For everyone born between 1945 to 1965, hepatitis C screening is recommended. Why? This infection is common in this age group, and it's asymptomatic until it gets to the late-stage. There are vaccines for hepatitis A and B if screening reveals non-exposure to these viruses.

Get tested for HIV, hepatitis, and syphilis if:

  • You use intravenous (IV) drugs
  • You test positive for another STI which exposes you to other STIs
  • Since your last test, you or your partner have had multiple partners
  • You're pregnant or planning to get pregnant
  • You've been forced to have sexual intercourse unwillingly
  • You're a man sleeping with other men

Syphilis is tested by taking either a blood sample or a swab from any genital sores present in your body. This sample is analysed in the lab. For HIV and hepatitis testing, a blood sample is needed.

Human papillomavirus (HPV)

Some HPV types can cause cervical cancer, while other types can result in genital warts. At some point in life, a lot of sexually active people contract HPV but are asymptomatic. This virus usually clears off within 2 years.

Men having HPV are diagnosed by physical examination or biopsy of genital warts; there's no routine screening test for HPV.

HPV test in women covers:

  • Pap test - This test should be done every 3 years for women between the ages of 21 and 65. It checks the cervix for abnormal cells
  • HPV test - For women above 30 years, it may be recommended that they have an HPV test together with a Pap test every 5 years if previous tests were abnormal. But an HPV test will be given to women between 21 and 30 if their Pap test results are abnormal.

HPV has been associated with oropharyngeal (mouth and throat) cancer, and cancer of the vulva, vagina, and penis. Men and women can be vaccinated against certain HPV types, but the vaccine is more effective if administered before having sex.

Genital herpes

This viral infection doesn't have a good screening test. It can be transmitted from asymptomatic persons. For lab analysis, your doctor might take a swab or culture of blisters, or early ulcers (if you have them). Even if your result comes out negative, it doesn't exempt herpes as a cause for genital ulcerations.

Your doctor may take a blood test to diagnose past herpes infection, however, the results aren't always conclusive. Certain blood tests can set the 2 main herpes types apart: HSV-1 is usually responsible for cold sores and genital sores as well; HSV-2 is a common cause of genital sores. But the results may not be completely precise depending on the stage of the infection, and sensitivity of the test. It's possible to have false-positive and false-negative results.

Need a herpes test, contact a private STD testing clinic near you.

STI testing at home

At-home test kits for certain STIs like HIV, gonorrhoea and chlamydia are becoming popular and applicable.

To test for STI at home, a sample of your urine or an oral or genital swab will be collected and sent to a lab for examination. More than one sample may be required for some tests.

Home testing gives you the benefit of privately collecting your sample without visiting your doctor's office or taking a pelvic exam. But at-home testing has an increased rate of false-positive results (the test shows you have an STD that you actually don't have). If the home test result is positive, confirm that with your doctor. If the result is negative, yet you have symptoms, consult your doctor for result confirmation.

Positive test results

Your doctor may recommend further testing and possible treatment if you test positive for an STI. Do well to tell your sex partner so they can get tested and treated too, as infection can recur. A positive STI result can make you scared, angry, or ashamed, but know that you've done the best thing by getting tested so you can help your partners get treated as well. Have any concerns, talk to your private doctor in London today. Call us today on 0207 183 0886 or visit our website to book your appointment online.


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