22 Jan How Accurate Are STD/STI Tests?
If you are sexually active, there is a chance you might have a sexually transmitted disease or infection.
In 2016 alone, the CDC reported more than 2 million new cases of chlamydia, gonorrhea, and syphilis.
When Should You Get Tested for an STD/STI?
You may have an STD without even knowing it because STDs/STIs sometimes present silent symptoms.
So, when should you get tested?
You should get tested for an STD/STI if you are pregnant, just to be sure. You should also get tested if your partner tests positive for an STD/STI.
According to Mayo Clinic, you should get tested for Chlamydia and Gonorrhea if you fit into one of these categories:
- Sexually active women under age 25
- Women older than 25 and at increased risk of STDs/STIs — such as having sex with a new partner or multiple partners
- Men who have sex with men
- People with HIV
- Transgender women who have sex with men
- People who have been forced to have intercourse or engage in sexual activity against their will
The U.S. Preventive Services Task Force encourages HIV testing, at least once, as a routine part of health care if you’re between the ages of 15 and 65. Younger teens or older adults should be tested if they have a high risk of an STD/STI.
National guidelines recommend hepatitis C screening for all adults ages 18 to 79.
Providers generally only recommend testing for genital herpes for people who have symptoms or other risk factors.
What are the symptoms of an STD/STI?
According to the Cleveland Clinic, symptoms include:
- Bumps, sores, or warts near the mouth, anus, penis, or vagina
- Swelling or redness near the penis or vagina
- Skin rash
- Painful urination
- Weight loss, loose stools, night sweats
- Aches, pains, fever, and chills
- Yellowing of the skin (jaundice)
- Discharge from the penis or vagina (vaginal discharge might have an odor)
- Bleeding from the vagina other than during a monthly period
- Painful sex
- Severe itching near the penis or vagina
How does an STD/STI test work?
There are different types of tests for other STDs/STIs. A doctor will determine which test to give based on your symptoms and history. If an STD/STI is suspected, you can be tested for any of the following:
- HPV is tested by taking a pap smear.
- Chlamydia and gonorrhea can be tested at home or in a clinic with a urine sample or genital or oral swab.
- HIV, Syphilis, or hepatitis are all tested through a blood sample or a swab of any genital sores you may have.
- Genital Herpes is tested by testing tissue or blister samples.
According to Mayo Clinic, “A blood test also may tell if you had a past herpes infection, but results aren’t always reliable. Some blood tests can help providers see which of the two main types of herpes virus you have. Type 1 is the virus that usually causes cold sores, although it can also cause genital sores.
Type 2 is the virus that causes genital sores more often. Still, the results may need to be clarified, depending on how sensitive the test is and the stage of the infection. False-positive and false-negative results are possible.”
The CDC reported that when testing for an STD/STI, “a false positive is incredibly rare (99 percent of the time, tests that return negative are accurate). And if you have the STD/STI, it’ll pick it up more than 90 percent of the time.”
How Often Should You Get Tested?
If you are sexually active, you should get tested for an STD/STI, especially if you are already pregnant. One test may not be enough. You can get an STD/STI while pregnant, so it may be necessary to get tested more than once.
Discovering an STD/STI early can be crucial to the success of your health and that of your baby because treatment can begin that much sooner.
In 2016 there were 600 babies born with syphilis, resulting in 45 stillbirths and many babies born with congenital disabilities. Early testing could have helped to prevent these results.
“When you have congenital syphilis occurring, it means there has been a breakdown in the whole medical system ― that these cases are not being diagnosed until a baby is born when they should be diagnosed antenatally or even before then,” said Dr. Amesh Adalja, spokesman for the Infectious Diseases Society of America and a senior associate at the Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security. “It’s unfortunate that we’re seeing a resurgence of a disease that should be gone.”
What Should You Do Next?
If you suspect an STD/STI, you should get tested as soon as possible. Treatment may be available via antibiotics or other medication. If you are pregnant, you can consider a C-section to avoid passing any STDs/STIs to your baby through the birth canal.
Give us a call today for no-cost and confidential STD/STI testing. We are here for you if you have any questions or simply want someone to talk with. We want to provide you with all the resources you need to make the best decision for your future.