STD testing – not always easy, but oh so important
STD testing is a hot topic these days. Research shows that millions of people in the UK are tested for sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) each year, either by their own GP or at a sexual health clinic. But this also means there are many people who are having sex without being tested for STDs. Interestingly enough, women get tested for STDs more often than men. Another noteworthy fact is SDT tests are not very popular among older people. In fact, there are many sexually active over-50s who have never been screened for STDs. Now that’s not very smart. After all, anyone can contract an STD, even seniors. By getting tested, you can find out whether you have an STD and you can then get proper treatment, reduce the risk of serious complications and, last but not least, avoid passing it on.
Each year, nearly half a million people in the UK are diagnosed with an STD. The seven most common STDs in the UK are:
- Hepatitis B
Just because you don’t have any symptoms, don’t think you have nothing to worry about. There are many STDs that cause few problems, or even none at all, until much later. When symptoms do occur they’re often vague or subtle, such as pain when urinating, (an increase) in discharge or stomach pain. If left untreated, STDs can cause serious health problems. For example, Hepatitis B can lead to liver cancer and untreated HIV can develop into AIDS. So getting tested in time could really save your life!
When should you take an STD test?
If you have a new partner and want to have unprotected sex, then taking an STD test is absolutely essential. Because many STDs are asymptomatic at first, and therefore may go unnoticed, there’s a real risk of infections being passed on. Don’t think that just because someone looks healthy you can have unprotected sex. Always use a condom until you both have been tested and declared STD free. Other reasons for getting tested:
- You’ve had unprotected sex
- You have symptoms that could indicate an STD
- Your (former) partner has told you that he or she has an STD
Don’t delay getting tested if you think you might have an STD. Take an STD test to be sure!
Where can you get an STD test?
You can get tested for STDs at your GP’s office. If you belong to a high-risk group (young people under 25, prostitutes, homosexuals and people from high transmission risk areas) you can also be tested anonymously at a sexual health clinic. If visiting your GP or a sexual health clinic is too difficult or daunting, there are STD self-tests available that you do in familiar surroundings. Some self-test kits give immediate results, others require you to send a sample of your blood, urine or mucus to a laboratory after which you can check the results anonymously online.
What if the result is positive?
If the result from your STD self-test kit is positive, that means you have an infection and you need to seek treatment as soon as possible. So visit your GP for help. It’s also important to inform everyone you’ve had sexual contact with so that they can be tested and treated, and to prevent them spreading the infection further. Some women don’t tell their ex-partners on purpose, as a way to take revenge for being spurned. This is obviously a stupid thing to do, as it will only increase the risk of the STD being passed on to people who have nothing to do with you or your ex. Always tell your past (sexual) partners that you’ve contracted an STD. If you don’t want to tell your sexual partners personally that they might have caught an STD, your GP or sexual health clinic can do it for you. This is called partner notification.