Even though conversations about STDs (sexually transmitted diseases) and STIs (sexually transmitted infections) have opened up quite a bit in recent years, allowing young adults to learn more about these common health problems, there’s often still a stigma attached to these health issues. And that issue is what causes many people to avoid getting tested for STDs and STIs, even when they know that they should. If you happen to be part of that group…
- First of all, it’s important to realize that you aren't alone and that there’s nothing to be ashamed of. It doesn't matter if you've never had an STD testing procedure before or if you've had too many to count; it doesn't matter why you’re thinking about getting tested now. Family care providers and community health clinics are required, by law, to make sure that confidential STD testing stays confidential.
- If you feel uncomfortable going to your regular family care physician and asking for an STD screening, nearly every medical walk in clinic will be able to provide the service anonymously, even if you don’t have insurance (or don’t want to use it, for whatever reason). Many of these community health clinics also have labs right in the building, so they can provide same day STD testing services as well. With over 9,300 urgent care facilities in the U.S. today, it isn't hard to find one nearby.
- Factors like gender, sexual orientation, religion, age, or anything else along those lines -- it simply doesn't matter. For example, research shows that fewer than 40% of young, sexually-active females are regularly tested for STIs like chlamydia, even though young adults under the age of 25 are more at risk of developing an STI. Even though an estimated 20 million STDs occur each year just in the U.S., STI and STD testing procedures aren't considered an essential piece of routine health exams -- meaning that many family care providers don’t test their patients for STDs, and many don’t even offer to do so unless asked.
There are plenty of resources available online through the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website, but it’s also okay to just stop by your community health clinic and ask for more information about these health problems and what to expect from a testing procedure. When it comes down to it, getting tested for STIs and STDs is a matter that concerns your health, and you have a right to know -- without feeling ashamed-- as much as you can.