Even with safe sex practices and proper condom usage, the World Health Organization estimates that nearly one million new cases of sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) are acquired each day. The good news is that many of these cases are easily detected and easily treated.
Because routine STD testing plays a big role in preventing the unintentional spread of STDs, it’s important to stay get tested regularly. Early detection of STDs not only helps protect your partners, but it also ensures that you get swift treatment if you need it. That’s why our health care professionals at Primary Care Walk-in Medical Clinic recommend you come in to see us if you’re due for a routine test.
Our physicians at Primary Care Walk-in Medical Clinic are happy to explain the common testing schedules and the possible next steps if you have an STD.
Do you really need an STD test?
Yes! All sexually active individuals need STD testing regardless of sexual orientation or sexual history. There isn’t just one type of STD test though. Depending on the disease being tested, the test might be a swab, a urine sample, or a blood test. Together, these tests can detect human immunodeficiency virus (HIV), syphilis, chlamydia, gonorrhea, hepatitis B, and herpes (genital warts).
How often you need testing depends on several factors including:
- Age and sex
- Sexual orientation
- Whether you’re pregnant
Your sexual history and relationship status makes a difference, too, depending on if you’re in a monogamous relationship versus having multiple partners.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has outlined the specific recommendations, so you’ll never be left wondering “When do I need a test?” In general, all STD testing schedules come down to annual tests, interval testing, or testing in special circumstances.
Do you need annual testing? Annual testing (at least for chlamydia) is recommended by the CDC for all adults who engage in sexual activity at least once in that given year.
You might benefit from annual STD testing if:
- You’re between the ages of 13 and 65 and engage in sexual activity
- You’ve never had an STD test before
- You’re in a committed, monogamous relationship
- You practice safe sex
The best way to protect yourself (and your partners) is to stay on top of your testing, and sometimes annual testing isn’t enough. The CDC suggests interval testing. Testing at intervals — as often as every 3-6 months — may benefit you if you:
- Are a sexually active gay man
- Are bisexual
- Have multiple sexual partners
- Have anonymous sexual partners
- Practice unsafe sex
Note: Remember these are just guidelines, and one of our compassionate health care providers can discuss the specifics of interval testing with you.
Special circumstance screening
Sometimes situations arise that require you to have an STD test outside of the annual or interval schedule. Special circumstances include pregnancy (all expectant mothers must receive an STD panel during their pregnancy), starting to date a new partner, or developing symptoms that mimic an STD.
Treating STDs and keeping your follow-up appointments
Although it can be unnerving to discuss STDs, rest assured that our doctors and staff members can help you feel at ease when discussing your routine STD panels. Not only can we provide testing, but we can also treat underlying infections. We walk you through the appropriate follow-up actions in compliance with the CDC such as:
- Taking medication as directed
- Scheduling repeat tests within three months to make sure the infections have cleared
- Tips for talking to your partner
- Tips for preventing STDs
At Primary Care Walk-in Medical Clinic, we’re happy to provide primary care services (including STD tests), and if you’re overdue for a test, we’re here to make sure you get the care you need. Call to request an appointment at one of our two Arizona locations in Gilbert and Fountain Hills, or try our convenient online booking tool.