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Heres how often you should be tested for STDs
The minimum for everyone.
If you're sexually active and under the age of 25 you should be having an annual STI check whenever you go to the doctors, according to the CDC. If you're older than 25, it's still a good idea to get checked annually, especially if you're having unprotected sex or with partners with an unknown STI status.
All people, sexually-active or not, should get at least one HIV test in their lives, and sexually-active people should continue to be tested annually.
It's not often discussed, but it's important that a pregnant person be screened for multiple STIs during their check-up in order to keep them and their baby safe, according to the CDC. Most doctors will make sure this happens, but it never hurts to ask.
People with penises who have sex with people with penises.
This is a tricky one. The CDC recommends that people with penises who have sex with other people with penises be tested for STIs more frequently than other people. It recommends everyone have yearly screenings, but suggests men with multiple partners have more frequent testing (about every three to six months).
The CDC recommends this because, according to studies, people it define as gay and bisexual people with penises have a higher rate of STIs. Although this is a stigma often assigned to gay and bisexual people, it does have some logic behind it. According to the CDC,"men who have sex with men" account for about 60% of syphilis cases and accounted for the majority of new gonorrhea and syphilis cases in a 2019 CDC study. These infections have been on the rise since 2000 among men who have sex with men.
It's important to remember, however, that you can be infected with an STI no matter your gender or sexuality.
Why it's important.
Depending on the infection, certain STIs may show no physical symptoms, can lay dormant for a time, or may have a longer incubation period, meaning that your last STI test can get out of date pretty quickly. It's important to get frequent testing to keep you and your partners in the know.
But according to Dr. Art Rastinehad and Dr. John Rimmer, co-founder and chief medical officer of Biem, the first virtual sexual health clinic, lot of people aren't doing that. They told INSIDER that they feel the majority of people are not getting tested for STIs enough and as a result, STIs are on the rise with a scary frequency.
"The incidence of STIs is skyrocketing around the country, and with many STIs showing no physical symptoms, the long-term complications for this generation of sexually-active individuals may be profound," they said. "We are now seeing multi-drug resistance gonorrhea, and a 30% rise in syphilis, which just a decade ago was exceedingly rare in many areas."
Unfortunately, stigmas surrounding STIs and STI testing can leave many too nervous or ashamed to know their status and take the proper precautions.
"Fear, confusion, anxiety, and unfortunately, a willful ignorance of some people to ignore their sexual health undoubtedly puts others in harms way," the doctors said. "There can be long-term consequences of STIs, from infertility to problems with your urinary system, or in some cases cancer and death. Naturally, the stress an STI can place on a relationship can also be significant."
There is a stigma around STIs that can prevent many from being tested. Shutterstock
What you can do.
Get yourself tested frequently, even if you think you don't need it and encourage your partners to do the same. Though it's not the most fun conversation to have, you should discuss both of your statuses before having any type of sexual contact with them.
Even if you do have that conversation, you should still be using protection, not matter the "type" of sex you're having.
"If you and your partners get tested regularly and use condoms during oral, anal and/or vaginal sex, you can greatly reduce your risks," doctors Rastinehad and Rimmer said.
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