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STD Screens: When to Get Tested & What’s Involved

Itching. Burning. Odor. Sounds like the signs of a sexually transmitted disease or STD. However, you might be surprised to learn not all STDs come with a heads-up.

STDs carry a lot of unwarranted stigmas. They are more common than you might think. According to the Centers for Disease Control, one in five Americans have an STD.

If you are sexually active, you should be tested for STDs at least once a year. STD screens look for infection when you might not even have symptoms. You can compare the importance of STD screens to mammograms or colonoscopies.

Most Common STDs


Human Papillomavirus (HPV) – This the most common STD in the United States. This virus causes genital warts, although the lesions don’t always present themselves in everyone who is carrying the disease.

Syphilis – A bacterial infection passed from one person to another by oral, anal, or genital contact with contagious but painless sores that erupt during the initial stages of the disease.

Gonorrhea and Chlamydia – You can get either of these STDs by having vaginal, oral, or anal sex with someone who has the bacteria. Both are easily cured and treated with antibiotics. However, if left untreated they could cause fertility issues.

Herpes – This virus has two strains: Type 1 and Type 2. Type 1 is what causes herpes sores around the mouth, also known as cold sores. Type 2 is genital herpes. Someone can have either one form of the virus or both but never experience symptoms. Symptoms include painful sores near the mouth, genitals, or anus. The virus is usually spread by contact with infectious sores, but sometimes a person can be contagious when no sores are present.

Hepatitis C – A viral infection that is commonly transmitted through contact with blood or through skin exposure by sharing needles or coming into contact with an open wound or sore.

HIV – This viral infection is transmitted via body fluids like blood; or sexually, by having unprotected anal or vaginal sex.

When to Get an STD Screen


In addition to being sexually active or experiencing symptoms, there are several other reasons that should prompt you to seek out an STD test.

Unprotected sex – If you’ve had or want to start having sex with a new partner, without a condom.

Infected partner – If your partner has a chronic or long-term infection, such as HIV or hepatitis C or B, it’s important to be tested more frequently.

High-risk sexual behavior – If you engage in intimate contact with an  IV drug user, have multiple partners, or anonymous partners, you’re at higher risk for contracting an STD.

Baby boomer Many people born between 1945 and 1965 may have contracted hepatitis C before we even knew the virus existed or could test for it. Also, because they may have no symptoms of infection.

Types of STD Screens


There is no single test to detect every STD at once. Medical providers will consider your specific symptoms and sexual history to determine what type of STD test to give you.

The screenings could include:

  • Blood sample
  • Urine sample
  • Swab of the inside of the mouth
  • Genital swab
  • Swab of discharge or sores

The staff at American Family Care is well-equipped with the tools to provide you with fast, reliable, and confidential testing and treatments. Click here to find a location near you.

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