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Oct 29 2016
by Nancy Canevari

The College Student's Guide to STD Testing

By Nancy Canevari - Oct 29 2016
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If you've never been tested for STDs before, and if your sex education class left much to be desired (and let's face it, if you live in America, it probably did), this article will outline the testing process for various STDs, as well as how often you should get tested. If you want a comprehensive guide to the STDs discussed in this article, check out this Fresh U article explaining the symptoms and details of several common STIs. 


HIV/AIDS

How is it tested?

HIV is tested with either a blood test or an oral swab, but usually with a blood test. This involves going to a clinic and having blood drawn. HIV can also be tested for with a rapid test (oral swab or blood pricked from your finger), which will give you results much sooner, but those results can be confirmed with a test at a later date. Full test results should be available within a week, but rapid test results will be available in about twenty minutes. 

With HIV/AIDS, testing can be confidential, where your name is attached to your results and then kept on your medical record, or anonymous, where your name is never attached to the test. Check with the clinic to see whether your state offers anonymous testing.

IMPORTANT: With HIV/AIDS, there is a three-month window period after contracting the disease when it won't show up on test results. It can still be passed to other people during that period.

When should I get tested?

You should be tested for HIV if you're pregnant, if you've had unprotected sex or if you've used drug needles that were unclean. All adults between 13-64 years old should be tested for HIV at least once.


Chlamydia 

How is it tested?

A symptom of chlamydia is discharge from the cervix or penis, so a form of testing is to have that discharge tested. This symptom doesn't show up in some people, however, so cells from the penis, cervix, urethra or anus can also be tested.

When should I get tested?

You should be tested if you have symptoms or have had unprotected sex. You should also be tested once a year if you are a sexually active woman younger than 25 years, or if you are a sexually active biosex male who has sex with other biosex males.


Gonorrhea

How is it tested?

Like chlamydia, gonorrhea is tested with discharge from the cervix, urethra or anus, unless that discharge is not present, in which case cells from the penis, cervis, urethra or anus will be treated instead.

When should I get tested?

Get tested for gonorrhea once a year if you're a sexually active young woman under 25 years or if you're older and have had unprotected sex or sex with a partner who has an STD. You should also be tested annually if you're a sexually active biosex male who has sex with other biosex males. 


Herpes

How is it tested? 

Herpes doesn't always have symptoms, so a blood test is required to determine whether or not you have it. If you do have sores, fluid from them will be tested as well. You should usually get results within 24 hours.

When should I get tested?

Get tested for herpes if you have symptoms or have had unprotected sex/been exposed to the virus.


Syphilis

How is it tested?

Syphilis, like many other STDs, often has no symptoms. If you have sores, fluid from them will be drawn and tested, but if not, a simple blood test will be able to tell if you have the disease or not.

When should I get tested?

Get tested if you have symptoms, have had unprotected sex or are pregnant. You should also get tested once a year if you are a sexually active biosex male who has sex with other biosex males.


Hepatitis B

How is it tested?

Hepatitis B is tested with a simple blood test, because very often it doesn't have symptoms. It can take up to two months for the disease to show up positive on tests, even if you have it.

When should I get tested?

You should be tested for Hepatitis B if you have symptoms, have had unprotected sex or if you've shared needles, razors or other items that exchange bodily fluids with a person who has Hepatitis B. You should also be tested if you're pregnant. 

We're fortunate enough to live in a world where most STDs are treatable, if they're not fully curable. The key to testing is to get it done early, however, so if you believe that you've been exposed to an STD, go to your doctor or local clinic as soon as possible. And remember, preventing STDs is always easier than treating them, so practice safe sex habits - condoms (both internal and external) and dental dams are your friends.

Lead Image Credit: Pexels

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Nancy Canevari - Smith College

Nancy is a junior editor for Fresh U. She is a sophomore at Smith College and plans on double majoring in secondary education and English, with a concentration in creative writing. She's originally from New Jersey, a place she views with one part love and one part exasperated disgust. She loves dogs and young adult high fantasy novels a bit too much and spends most of her time drinking tea and yelling about politics. Follow her on Instagram @fearlesslynancelot for some solidly mediocre content.

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