STDs are still a difficult subject for a lot of people, despite the fact that we know more today than ever before about how STDs are transmitted, prevented, diagnosed and treated. We also know that certain STDs are incredibly commonplace, and may not result in any symptoms for many people.
It’s normal to have fear and trepidation around STDs – but the more we learn, and the clearer our understanding of how STDs work, the easier it is to have frank and open conversations that lead to effective STD prevention.
One question that people often ask is: When is the best time to test for STDs? If you feel you may have been exposed to an STD, is it best to visit your urgent care center or sexual health clinic right away, and get tested immediately?
The answer isn’t actually all that straightforward. HSV-2 is a great example. This particular infection can result in the appearance of lesions – but it’s possible to have HSV-2 and not experience any symptoms at all. It can take months for your body to develop these antibodies, even though the virus has entered your body. That’s why doctors (in particular sexual health specialists) advise waiting three months after the possible exposure before having your blood tested. however not recommend as part of routine STD testing UNLESS patient has active outbreak/lesions. reason being that both types can effect both oral and genital and a positive antibody test when there is NO active infection will not differentiate between oral and genital herpes virus.
New HIV testing can detect infections via labs as early as 4 weeks post-exposure.
Hepatitis is another common STD that results in antibodies after a period of weeks, but may not result in symptoms. The correct waiting period for Hepatitis is anywhere from 3-12 weeks.
Other STDs are bacterial, not viral, and are therefore curable with antibiotics. If you don’t know what these are, it’s worth reviewing what you know about common STDs, and asking when your last checkup was. STD testing may not be the most fun you have all week, in fact it can be downright scary in some cases. But in the vast majority of cases, these fears are unfounded. Even if an STD is diagnosed, it’s better to be aware of it and prevent unwanted transmission. Even the most serious STDs can be managed with medications, and it’s worth mentioning that according to the American Sexual Health Association, half of all sexually active Americans will contract an STD before the age of 25. The only thing to be afraid of with STDs is not understanding them, and not knowing your status!
Where to go for STD testing
One thing you should never, ever have to worry about is whether your STD testing experience will be professional, discreet and comfortable. The idea of hearing about a positive result can be very daunting, even if your risk is very low. That’s why finding the right clinic, staffed by friendly professionals you can trust, is so important. Even in the absence of symptoms, doctors recommend a complete sexual health checkup every year or so for sexually active individuals. Contact your local urgent care center for information on what STD tests you can receive with a walk-in appointment.