The United States spends about $16 billion yearly in healthcare costs for sexually transmitted diseases. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that there are approximately 20 million new STDs every year with half of the statistics coming from young adults ranging from age 15 to 24. According to the American Sexual Health Association, one in two sexually active persons will contract an STD by the age of 25.
Despite the stigma and the discomfort that surround the subject of STDs, it is important to get yourself tested, especially after each new sexual partner, and you can treat the infection(s) as soon as possible. If left untreated, STDs can cause long-term, more complicated health issues, such as ectopic pregnancies, infertility, and neurological disorders.
The most common STDs that are tested are the following:
• Human papillomavirus
• Genital herpes
There is no universal STD test. Some tests are conducted through a pelvic exam; others are done through blood or urine samples. Your healthcare provider can help determine what kind of tests you will need. If you choose to not see a healthcare provider, getting tested for the most common STDs is recommended. And while time, cost, access, and other personal reasons act as barriers to get tested for STDs, there are many resources available to you to get tested for STDs.
• Your primary care physician/gynecologist: During your next physical, check-up, or when you’re feeling a little sick, go see your doctor and ask for an STD exam in addition. If you’re seeing your gynecologist, another easy way to get tested is to request an STD exam after a Pap smear. You can pay out of pocket or use your health insurance. Requesting exams from your physician will be expensive.
• University health centers: When I was having sex, I felt uncomfortable going to see my primary care physician because my whole family sees her, and I didn’t want my parents to know, so I went to my university health center instead. I didn’t want to use my health insurance because I am on my parents’ plan, so I paid out of pocket, but the privacy was worth it for me. It was easy and convenient especially because I am on campus all the time. University health centers will take most health insurance, so check to see what the policy is with your own universal health centers.
• Planned Parenthood: Most Planned Parenthood clinics will offer inexpensive or free STD testing.
• Local: Every state has different resources to get cheap, quick, confidential testing. Here are some websites that have put together information based on your location.
• CDC Get Tested Resource: https://gettested.cdc.gov/
• Safer STD Testing Resource: http://www.saferstdtesting.com/free-std-testing/
By getting tested, you are not only protecting your health but you are protecting your potential sexual partners’ health as well all in the short and long run.
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