How to GYT
If you are sexually active, getting tested for sexually transmitted infections, or STIs, is one of the most important things you can do to protect your health! Have an open and honest conversation with your healthcare provider about your sexual history and STI testing. This will help them understand what STI tests you may need.
Studies have shown that many teens don’t talk to their healthcare providers about issues of sex and sexuality during their annual health visits, sometimes because they are afraid their parents might find out. If you don’t feel comfortable talking with your regular healthcare provider about STIs, visit one of the many clinics that provide confidential testing that is free or low cost. For ways to prepare for your doctor’s visit, check out this guide.
You may be at risk for STIs if you can answer yes to any of these questions:
- Have you had vaginal (penis in the vagina), anal (penis in the anus), or oral sex (mouth on penis, vagina, or anus) without a condom in the past 12 months?
- Have you ever had an STI, including HIV?
- Have any of your partners had an STI?
- Have you or any of your partners ever used illicit substances?
- Have you exchanged sex for needs in the past 12 months (money, housing, drugs, etc.)?
- Is it possible that any of your sex partners in the past 12 months had sex with someone else while they were still in a sexual relationship with you?
Which STI Tests Should I Get?
- All adults and adolescents from ages 13 to 64 should be tested at least once for HIV.
- All sexually active women younger than 25 years should be tested for gonorrhea and chlamydia every year. Women 25 years and older with risk factors such as new or multiple sex partners or a sex partner who has an STI should also be tested for gonorrhea and chlamydia every year.
- Everyone who is pregnant should be tested for syphilis, HIV, hepatitis B, and hepatitis C starting early in pregnancy. Those at risk for infection should also be tested for chlamydia and gonorrhea starting early in pregnancy. Repeat testing may be needed in some cases.
- All sexually active gay, bisexual, and other men who have sex with men should be tested:
- At least once a year for syphilis, chlamydia, and gonorrhea. Those who have multiple or anonymous partners should be tested more frequently (e.g., every 3 to 6 months).
- At least once a year for HIV and may benefit from more frequent HIV testing (e.g., every 3 to 6 months).
- At least once a year for hepatitis C, if living with HIV.
- Anyone who engages in sexual behaviors that could place them at risk for infection or shares injection drug equipment should get tested for HIV at least once a year.
- People who have had oral or anal sex should talk with their healthcare provider about throat and rectal testing options.
Find Out What STI Care Options Are Available Near You.
In addition to traditional, in-person visits, other options that may be available include:
- Video or phone appointments with your healthcare provider.
- Express visits allow walk-in testing and treatment appointments without a full clinical exam.
- Pharmacies and retail clinics, such as at a grocery store or big-box store, for on-site testing and treatment.
- At-home collection where you collect your own sample and take or mail it to a lab for testing.
Get Tested, Get Treated
Testing positive for an STI is not the end. Many STIs are curable and all are treatable.
If you or your partner has an STI that can be cured, both of you need to start treatment immediately to avoid getting re-infected. Getting treated right away also can help avoid health problems down the road.
A forgotten prescription from your healthcare provider won’t help – make sure to get it filled and take your medication as prescribed. That also means you shouldn’t share your prescription with your partner.
Get retested! It’s common to get some STIs more than once, especially chlamydia and gonorrhea. You should be retested in 3 months even if you and your partner took medicine.