1 STD TESTING FAQs The only way to know for sure if you or anyone else has an STD is to get tested. Testing is faster and easier than ever before. So what are you waiting for? Get Yourself Tested today! Got questions about testing? GYT has answers... Why should I get tested? Sexually transmitted diseases (STDs, also called sexually transmitted infections or STIs) are very common. Every year in the U.S. there are more than 19 million new cases of STDs. By age 25, an estimated one in two sexually active young people will get one. If you think it can t happen to you think again. Since STDs often show no symptoms, many of those who are infected don t know it. The only way to know if you or a partner has an STD is to get tested. The good news is that all STDs are treatable, and many are curable. Putting off getting care for an STD can have lasting health effects for both women and men. Left untreated, some STDs can cause infertility (that is, make you unable to have children). Some can also increase your risk of getting cancer and even dying. And get this having an STD increases your risk of getting HIV and other STDs if you have sex with an infected partner. If you do notice any changes or irritations (like sores) in your genital area, or any unusual discharge or discomfort when urinating, you should see a health care provider as these may be signs of an STD. However, not all genital infections are STDs. STDs can often be mistaken for common infections or irritations. For example, bumps like pimples or hair follicles on or around the genitals may be confused for genital warts. For women, STDs are often confused with yeast infections and other conditions. That s why it s important to see a health care provider if you have any concerns and ask what STDs you should be tested for. Before you start a new sexual relationship, it s a good idea to talk with your partner about your sexual history and getting tested for STDs. After all, you are not just having sex with your partner but with everyone they ve had sex with and everyone they ve had sex with and well, you get the point. Some STDs are so common that the CDC recommends routine screening. Wouldn t I know if I or my partner had an STD? The only way to know whether you or anyone else has an STD is to get tested. You can t always tell if someone has an STD by the way he or she looks. STDs are very common. It just takes one sexual experience to get an STD. Even more to the point: STDs, including HIV, often have NO symptoms. That s right so many people who have one don t even know it! The only way to know is to Get Yourself and Your Partner Tested (GYT). Knowing can help you protect each other. To maximize your protection against STDs use a condom each and every time (no excuses) you have sex (including oral sex). Which STDs should I get tested for? There is no single test for every STD tests are specific to each infection. And some infections can be found using more than one type of test. You and your health care provider will decide which STDs you should be tested for. But most importantly you need to speak up and ask to get tested. You can t assume that you have been tested for STDs if you have blood taken, give a urine sample, or (for women) have a pelvic exam or pap smear. You have to specifically ask to be tested. Be honest and open with your health care provider. They are there to help you, not to judge you. They need to know about your sexual history. Your provider/doctor will help you make important decisions about test(s) you may need. Certain STDs are so common, your health care provider may suggest that you get tested regularly for them. What s involved in testing? The type of test or tests you need will depend on the STDs you need to be tested for. This can vary depending on your age, sex, and sexual history. Remember, there is no single test that can screen for all STDs. Your test may include: Physical exam Your health care provider may look at your genitals and/or your anus for any signs of an infection, such as a rash, discharge, sores, or warts. For women, this exam can be similar to a pelvic exam.
2 STD TESTING FAQs cont... Urine sample You may be asked to pee into a cup at your clinic or health care provider s office. Urine samples can be used to test for chlamydia or gonorrhea. Discharge, tissue, cell or oral fluid sample Your provider will use a swab to collect samples that will be looked at under a microscope. These samples can test for certain STDs, like chlamydia, gonorrhea, herpes, or HIV. Blood sample Your provider may take a blood sample, either with a needle or by pricking the skin to draw drops of blood. These can be used, for example, to test for syphilis, herpes, or HIV. When you see your health care provider, find out exactly what you are being tested for. Sometimes your diagnosis can be made based on your symptoms or a physical exam. Treatment could be prescribed right away. Other times, your health care provider may need to send a sample away to a lab. In that case, the results may not be available for several days. Always follow up! If you don t get your results, it s as good as not having been tested. Don t assume your results are negative if you don t hear back find out for sure. Where do I go to get tested? Finding a testing center near you is quick and easy. To find one, enter your zipcode in the testing center locator at or text your zip code to GYTNOW (498669) on your cell phone. You will get a text message back with information about the nearest testing center to you. Who will know? Generally, medical information is kept confidential between the patient and health care provider. Positive results for some STDs, like HIV or syphilis, may be shared with state or city health departments for tracking purposes, but there are laws that stop health departments from sharing your test results with your family, friends, or employer. If you are using health insurance to get tested, you should consider who else has access to that information (a parent or partner if you share health insurance). Be sure to ask your health care provider who will know that you got tested and who will know your results, especially if you are using insurance, so that you are clear and informed. If you are under 18, there are places where you can get confidential testing, meaning your parents don t need to give permission for you to be there, and they won t be contacted by the clinic that you were there. When you call to make an appointment for STD testing, ask about the health center s privacy policies: Will they call you at home with test results? Will they send a bill to you? Will they send other mail? Since each health center and clinic works a little differently, this is the best way to know for sure. How much will it cost? The cost really depends on the test and where you go to get tested. Costs can vary from health center to health center. Many health centers/clinics offer low-cost or even free testing. Many offer tests on a sliding scale (based on what you can afford). Most accept health insurance. If you don t have health insurance, or prefer not to use it for STD testing, you can talk to your health center/clinic about payment options. Be sure to ask about cost when you call to make your appointment. What if I test positive for an STD? What happens next? First, remember, all STDs are treatable and many are curable. There are different treatments for different STDs. For some STDs, there are several treatment options. Here are two examples: If you test positive for chlamydia, you will be given a prescription for an antibiotic that will cure this case of chlamydia. You will still be able to get chlamydia again, if exposed to someone who has it. If you test positive for herpes, you will always have herpes (virus). But you can take medications to treat the symptoms. Medications are also available to help prevent future outbreaks and minimize their severity, as well as to lower the chances of passing the virus on to partners. You can also join support groups for people with herpes to help you cope and prevent transmission to others. If your results are positive, it is important that you follow the treatment recommended by your health provider completely. For example, if you re on antibiotics and your symptoms go away, you should still continue your medication until it is finished.
3 STD TESTING FAQs cont... How do I tell my partner that I have an STD? If you have an STD it is important to let your partner(s) know so they can get tested and treated if necessary. Everyone gets an STD from someone else. Part of stopping the spread of STDs is Getting Yourself Talking with your partners. This is never an easy conversation, but it is a very important conversation to have. Make a plan to tell him or her as soon as you are ready. You could talk to someone else about it first and use the conversation to practice what to say to a partner. Or journal about what you want to say. Or practice talking in a mirror. You could even write your partner a letter to get down what you want to say. But eventually, you need to find a way to tell your partner, whether face-to-face or on the phone or online. It may be really hard at first, but they deserve to know because it affects their health, too. This is also a good time to get some emotional support from a trusted friend, adult, health care provider or caregiver while you go through this process.
4 THE LOW DOWN ON THE MOST COMMON STDS CHLAMYDIA TRICHOMONIASIS (TRICH) GONORRHEA GENITAL HUMAN PAPILLOMAVIRUS (HPV) WHAT IS IT? A bacterial infection of the genital areas. A parasitic infection of the genital areas. A bacterial infection of the genital areas. A viral infection with over 40 types that can infect the genital areas, including types that cause warts and cancer. HOW MANY PEOPLE GET IT IN THE US? About 1.2 million new cases reported each year. The highest rates are among adolescent women. An estimated 5 million new cases each year. About 650,000 new cases reported each year. The highest rates are among women aged 15 to 19 and men aged 20 to 24. An estimated 6.2 million new cases each year, with at least 20 million people already infected. SYMPTOMS Often there are no symptoms. For women who do experience symptoms, they may have abnormal vaginal discharge, bleeding (not their period), and/or burning and pain during urination. For men who do experience symptoms, they may have discharge or pain during urination, and/or burning or itching around the opening of the penis. Often there are no symptoms. For women who do experience symptoms, they may notice a frothy, smelly, yellowish-green vaginal discharge, and/or genital area discomfort. Men who have symptoms may temporarily have a discharge from the penis, slight burning after urination or ejaculation, and/or an irritation in the penis. Most infected people have no symptoms. For those who do, it can cause a burning sensation while urinating, abnormal white, green, and/or yellowish vaginal or penile discharge. Women may also have abnormal vaginal bleeding and/or pelvic pain. Men may also have painful or swollen testicles. Most infected people have no symptoms. But some HPV types can cause genital warts small bumps in and around the genitals (vagina, vulva, penis, testicles, and anus, etc.). If they do occur, warts may appear within weeks or months of having sex with an infected partner. Cancercausing HPV types do not cause symptoms until the cancer is advanced. HOW IT S SPREAD can also be passed on from mother to child during childbirth. Through vaginal sex. can also be passed on from mother to child during childbirth. can also be passed on during skin-to-skin sexual contact, and in rare cases, from mother to child during childbirth. TREATMENT Oral antibiotics cure the infection. Both partners must be treated at the same time to prevent passing the infection back and forth. Both partners should abstain from sex until the infection is gone. Antibiotics can cure the infection. Both partners must be treated at the same time to prevent passing the infection back and forth. Both partners should abstain from sex until the infection is gone. It is common for this infection to recur (come back again). Oral antibiotics can cure the infection. Both partners must be treated at the same time to prevent passing the infection back and forth. Both partners should abstain from sex until the infection is gone. There is no cure for HPV (a virus), but there are ways to treat HPV-related problems. For example, warts can be removed, frozen off, or treated through topical medicines. Even after treatment, the virus can remain and cause recurrences (warts come back). POSSIBLE CONSEQUENCES (IF LEFT UNTREATED) STDs, including HIV. In women, chlamydia can cause pelvic inflammatory disease (PID) which can lead to infertility and tubal (ectopic) pregnancy. Men may develop pain and swelling in the testicles, although this is rare. Babies born to infected women can develop eye or lung infections. STDs, including HIV. In women, trich can cause complications during pregnancy. STDs, including HIV. In women, gonorrhea can cause pelvic inflammatory disease (PID) which can lead to infertility and tubal (ectopic) pregnancy. Men may develop epididymitis, a painful condition which can lead to infertility. Babies born to infected women can develop eye infections. Genital warts will not turn into cancer over time, even if they are not treated. Babies born to women with genital warts can develop warts in the throat. Cancer-causing HPV types can cause cervical cancer & other less common cancers (like anal cancer) if the infection lasts for years. Cervical cancer is rare in women who get regular Pap tests.
5 THE LOW DOWN ON THE MOST COMMON STDS GENITAL HERPES SYPHILIS HEPATITUS B VIRUS (HBV) HIV WHAT IS IT? A viral infection of the genital areas. It can also infect the area around the mouth. An infection caused by bacteria that can spread throughout the body. A viral infection affecting the liver- HBV can be acute (mild illness lasting for a short time) or chronic (a serious life-long illness). The human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) is the virus that causes AIDS. HOW MANY PEOPLE GET IT IN THE US? An estimated 1 million new infections each year, with about 45 million people already infected. About 46,000 new cases reported each year. An estimated 40,000 new cases each year (most of which are acquired through sex). Up to 1.2 million people are already infected with chronic HBV. About 56,000 new infections each year, with an estimated 1.1 million people already living with HIV. SYMPTOMS Most people have no symptoms. Herpes 1 typically causes cold sores and fever blisters on the mouth; Herpes 2 typically causes genital sores or blisters. But both viruses can cause sores in either area. A herpes outbreak can start as red bumps and then turn into painful blisters or sores. During the first outbreak, it can also lead to flu-like symptoms (like a fever, headaches, and swollen glands). Symptoms vary based on the course (timing) of infection beginning with a single, painless sore (called a chancre) on the genitals, anus, or mouth Other symptoms may appear up to 6 months after the first sore has disappeared, including a rash. However, there may be no noticeable symptoms until syphilis has progressed to more serious problems (see below). Many people don't have any symptoms, especially adults. People may experience tiredness, aches, nausea & vomiting, loss of appetite, darkening of urine, tenderness in the stomach, or yellowing of the skin and the whites of the eyes (called jaundice). Symptoms of acute HBV may appear 1 to 6 months after exposure. Symptoms of chronic HBV can take up to 30 years to appear, although liver damage can occur silently. Many people who are infected with HIV do not have any symptoms and feel healthy. Symptoms don t usually develop until a person s immune system has been weakened. The symptoms people experience are usually related to infections and cancers they get due to a weakened immune system. On average it takes about 10 years from initial HIV infection to develop AIDS. HOW IT S SPREAD can also be passed through skin-toskin sexual contact, kissing, and rarely, from mother to child during childbirth. can also be passed through kissing if there is a lesion (sore) on the mouth, and from mother to child during childbirth. Through vaginal, oral, or anal sex. Also through childbirth if the baby does not get vaccinated against HBV; sharing contaminated needles or razors; or exposure to the blood, bodily fluids (like cum) or saliva of an infected person. Through vaginal, oral, or anal sex. Also by sharing contaminated needles or drug works; and from mother-to-child during pregnancy or breast-feeding. The chance of getting it through kissing is very low. TREATMENT There is no cure for herpes the virus stays in the body and may cause recurrent outbreaks. Medications can help treat symptoms, reduce the frequency of outbreaks, and reduce the likelihood of spreading it to sex partners. Antibiotic treatment can cure syphilis if it's caught early, but medication can't undo damage already done. Both partners must be treated and avoid sexual contact until the sores are completely healed. Most often, acute HBV is treated with rest, eating well, and lots of fluids. Chronic HBV is treated through close monitoring by a doctor and anti-retroviral medications. There is no cure for HIV or AIDS. Anti-retroviral treatment can slow the progression of HIV disease & delay the onset of AIDS. Early diagnosis & treatment can improve a person s chances of living a longer, healthier life. POSSIBLE CONSEQUENCES (IF LEFT UNTREATED) STDs, including HIV. Some people with herpes may get recurrent sores. Passing herpes from mother to newborn is rare, but an infant with herpes can become very ill. STDs, including HIV. Untreated, the symptoms will disappear, but the infection stays in the body and can cause damage to the brain, heart, and nervous system, and even death. Syphilis in women can seriously harm a developing fetus during pregnancy. STDs, including HIV. Chronic, persistent inflammation of the liver and later cirrhosis or cancer of the liver. Babies born to infected women are likely to develop chronic HBV infection if they don t get needed immunizations at birth (including HBV vaccination). Increased risk for other lifethreatening infections and certain cancers. By weakening the body s ability to fight disease, HIV makes an infected person more vulnerable to infections that they wouldn t otherwise get. HIV can also cause infections that anyone can get, such as other STDs and pneumonia, to be much worse. Left untreated, HIV infection is a fatal disease.
6 RESOURCES WEB RESOURCES - Information about HIV/AIDS, including FAQs and an "ask the experts" feature. - Information on relationship and sexual health issues, provided by Columbia University's Health Education Program. - FAQs about HIV and AIDS and zipcode finder for local testing locations, sponsored by the CDC. - Informational resources for pregnant women considering adoption; also includes referral to local adoption agencies. Sponsored by the National Council for Adoption. - Information for young people about sexual health and sexually transmitted diseases (STDs), sponsored by the American Social Health Association. - Information about sexual health for young women of color, sponsored by Advocates for Youth. - Information and FAQs about emergency contraception; also includes zipcode finder for local providers of emergency contraception, sponsored by the Office of Population Research at Princeton University. - Information about issues related to sexual identity for young people and educators, sponsored by the National Coalition for Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual & Transgender Youth. - Informational resources and Online Hotline about sexual assault, sponsored by the Rape, Abuse and Incest National Network. - Information about sexual health issues provided by teens, for teens, sponsored by the Teen-to-Teen Sexuality Education Project developed by Answer (formerly the Network for Family Life Education), State University of New Jersey. - Informational resources and community activities to help prevent teen and unintended pregnancy, sponsored by the National Campaign to prevent Teen and Unintended Pregnancy. - FAQs about STDs and zipcode finder for local testing locations, sponsored by the CDC. - Information, FAQs and an "ask the experts" feature for teens about health issues, including sexual health, sponsored by Nemours Foundation. - Informational resources on sexual health issues and clinic locator, sponsored by Planned Parenthood Federation of America. - Informational resources for gay, lesbian, bixsexual, transgender and questioning young people, sponsored by Advocates for Youth. HOT LINES CDC-INFO (Formerly known as the CDC National STD and AIDS Hotline) CDC-INFO ( ) l TTY Available 24 hours a day, in English and Spanish, counselors available to answer questions about personal health issues, including HIV and other STDs; online zipcode finders for local HIV and STD testing locations also available at and Sponsored by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Planned Parenthood National Hotline PLAN (7526) Available 24 hours a day, Planned Parenthood health center hotline for STDs, pregnancy and other sexual health issues, sponsored by Planned Parenthood Federation of America. Emergency Contraception Hotline NOT2LATE ( ) Pre-recorded information, in English and Spanish, about emergency contraception, sponsored by the Reproductive Health Technologies Project. For information about providers of emergency contraception visit National Council for Adoption Hotline ADOPT (23678) Available 24 hours a day for information about adoption; also available by sponsored by the National Council for Adoption. National Domestic Violence Hotline SAFE (7233) l (TTY) Available 24 hours a day, every day, in English and Spanish, for victims and anyone calling on their behalf to provide crisis intervention, safety planning, information and referrals to agencies in all 50 states, Puerto Rico and U.S. Virgin Islands. National Sexual Assault Hotline HOPE (4673) Sponsored by the Rape, Abuse, Incest National Network (RAINN); also available as Online Hotline (www.rainn.org)