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Why Now is a Good Time to Take an STD Test

While Americans were lining up in droves to get tested for COVID-19 during the last year, there was one type of test many people stopped requesting altogether: sexually transmitted disease (STD) tests. Now, health experts fear an undetected spread will lead to a surge in STD case numbers in the future.

In a study from Penn State College of Medicine, researchers reviewed data on more than 18 million STD test results from patients aged 14 to 49 from January 2019 through June 2020; and found screening declines of 63 percent for men and 59 percent for women in the early months of the pandemic. The rest of the 2020 data has not been released yet, but experts expect the numbers will reflect a similar decline.

Despite stay-at-home orders, social distancing, and other pandemic protocols to combat COVID-19, there is growing evidence that people continued to be sexually active with people outside their household. Activity on dating apps soared. One hookup app reported having 11 percent more swipes and 42 percent matches last year, making 2020 its busiest year.

When the pandemic first started, the United States was experiencing record-high rates of STDs, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Rates dropped dramatically toward the end of 2020, but the downturn is a false reflection of the number of people living with STDs. Instead, it reflects the decrease in the number of people who have been tested, not a decrease in the number of people who have contracted an STD. Once testing for STDs returns to pre-pandemic levels, there’s likely to be an increase in diagnosed infections. The fact that some Americans could have been living with an undetected STD could lead to more related health consequences, such as pelvic inflammatory disease, cervical cancer, infertility, and increased risk of HIV.

The best way to stop the spread of STDs is for people to know they have one. Since some people can be infected with STDs without showing symptoms, routine testing is an important part of diagnosis and prevention.

Get Tested

The general rule is that everyone who is sexually active should get tested once a year unless they’ve been in a long-term monogamous relationship and are sure of their partner’s status.

Sexual health is important. There are several STDs you should know about. Click on each of the names below to learn more about the transmission and symptoms.

A Comprehensive STD Panellike the one offered at Any Lab Test Now® tests for all major STDs at one time for one low price. No fasting is required. All test results are kept confidential.

Be at Ease

Any Lab Test Now wants you to be at ease when it comes to seeking out any type of lab work, including STD testing.

We provide you a safe and clean alternative location for lab work. Each of our 190+ stores is sanitized several times a day, in accordance with the CDC’s protocols. Any Lab Test Now is a committed partner in helping you manage your family’s healthcare so you can make educated decisions that will directly affect your quality of life. We want to put you at ease during the coronavirus pandemic. We are here to help.

For more information about Any Lab Test Now, and the tests we offer, visit us at www.anylabtestnow.com.

The ABCs of STDs

Just because the focus has mainly been on COVID-19 doesn’t mean other health threats are going away. Sexually transmitted diseases are a good example.

STD rates appear to be rising across the United States as fewer people get tested and treated during the pandemic. COVID-19 has reduced the number of places where STD testing is available. Many public health department workers who typically trace HIV and STD cases are being pulled off to help with coronavirus testing. A recent survey finds 83 percent of STD programs have paused services, and 66 percent of clinics report a decline in sexual health screenings due to COVID-19.

This couldn’t have come at a worse time in the fight against STDs. Combined cases of syphilis, gonorrhea and chlamydia are at an all-time high in the United States, according to the annual Sexually Transmitted Disease Surveillance Report released by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Experts say these rates are an epidemic amid a pandemic.

However, despite the stay-at-home orders and calls for social distancing, people are still having sex.

STDs can have severe health consequences if not treated. The diseases are spread through unprotected sex. Sometimes a person will have symptoms, but it is possible to have an STD and spread it to another person even if there are no symptoms.

Just because COVID 19 is limiting testing at public health departments, you can still find out if you have a sexually transmitted disease anytime at Any Lab Test Now. A comprehensive screening panel tests for all major STDs at one time at one low price. No fasting is required. All test results are kept confidential.

Here are the most common STDs and the symptoms:

Chlamydia

Chlamydia is the most commonly reported STD in the U.S. It is caused by a common bacterium that can be treated with antibiotics. But if left untreated, chlamydia can cause serious complications. Symptoms include an odd discharge from the vagina or penis or painful urination. Only about 25 percent of women; and 50 percent of men get symptoms.

Women who don’t get treated for chlamydia can suffer permanent damage to their reproductive system.

Gonorrhea

Gonorrhea is another common sexually transmitted disease. Like chlamydia, it is caused by a bacterium and has similar symptoms — unusual discharge from the vagina or penis and/or painful urination. Most men with gonorrhea will exhibit symptoms, but only about 20 percent of women will experience symptoms.

Untreated gonorrhea can cause serious and permanent health problems in both men and women, including infertility.

Syphilis

Syphilis is a sneaky STD. There are several stages of the disease, which can overlap. Syphilis usually starts with a sore called a chancre. It can show up anywhere in or around the male or female genitalia and can be mistaken for a pimple or ingrown hair. The chancres usually clear up in a few weeks, but the syphilis remains. A secondary stage of the disease involves a rash on the palms of the hands and/or soles of the feet. Some people may also experience flu-like symptoms. People whose untreated syphilis moves into the late stage can face serious health problems such as tumors, blindness, and paralysis.

Syphilis is easily treated by antibiotics in the early stage. The treatment will still work in the late stage but won’t reverse any damage already done to the body.

Herpes

There are two strains of herpes to look out for – herpes 1 (HSV-1) and herpes 2 (HSV-2). The main symptoms are painful blisters around the penis, vagina, or anus. However, not everyone who has herpes gets blisters. Even if you have protected sex with someone who has herpes, you can still catch it. All it takes is skin-to-skin contact, including areas that a condom doesn’t cover. Herpes is a virus and can’t be cured, but medication is available to help control it.

Some of the complications associated with herpes include bladder issues and an increased risk for contracting other sexually transmitted diseases. Babies born to mothers infected with herpes can be exposed to the virus during birth — possibly resulting in brain damage, blindness, or even death.

HIV

HIV is the virus that causes AIDS. It can be transmitted through unprotected intercourse with an infected person or sharing a needle with someone who is infected. It can also be passed through body fluids such as blood, semen, and breast milk — but HIV is not transmitted through saliva or by kissing.

Symptoms of HIV vary. It can feel like the flu, with body aches, fever, and fatigue. There is no cure for HIV, but there are drugs that can help people with HIV live long lives.

Testing Recommendations

Regular STD testing is important if you have sex, no matter how healthy you seem. The CDC recommends that any sexually active adult get tested for STDs regularly, depending on age and number of sexual partners.

  • All adults and adolescents from ages 13 to 64 should be tested at least once for HIV. Anyone who has unsafe sex or shares injection drug equipment should get tested for HIV at least once a year.
  • All sexually active women younger than 25 should be tested for gonorrhea and chlamydia every year. Women over 25 with risk factors (new or multiple sex partners) should also be tested yearly.
  • All pregnant women should be tested for syphilis, HIV, and hepatitis B.
  • All sexually active gay and bisexual men should be tested annually for syphilis, chlamydia, and gonorrhea. Those who have multiple or anonymous partners should be tested more frequently for STDs, including HIV.

 Be at Ease

If you are considering STD testing but are wary of bumping into a coronavirus patient at your doctor’s office, you can be at ease with a visit to Any Lab Test Now. We provide you with a safe and clean alternative location for lab work.  Each of our 185+ stores is sanitized several times a day, in accordance with the CDC’s protocols.

Any Lab Test Now is a committed partner in helping you manage your family’s healthcare so you can make educated decisions that will directly affect your quality of life. We want to put you at ease during the coronavirus outbreak. We are here to help.

Find your closest Any Lab Test Now at www.anylabtestnow.com.

Curb STDs by Getting Regular Tests

Battle the rising sexually-transmitted disease epidemic by visiting your local Any Lab Test Now and taking a quick test to determine your sexual health.

Combined cases of syphilis, gonorrhea and chlamydia reached an all-time high in the United States in 2018, according to a new report released by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The number of cases was more than 2.4 million in 2018 and nearly half of these cases are among youth, the study revealed. The number of primary and secondary syphilis cases — the most infectious stages of syphilis — increased 14 percent. Gonorrhea cases rose 5 percent, and chlamydia was up 3 percent to 1.7 million cases, the most ever reported to CDC.

A decrease in condom use among vulnerable groups, including young people and gay men, as well as cuts to STD treatment programs at both a state and local level is contributing to the rising number of STD cases. Drug use, poverty, stigma and unstable housing also reduce access to STD prevention and care.

Get tested for STDS at Any Lab Test Now

Any Lab Test Now offers convenient, affordable and private screening for sexually transmitted diseases or sexually transmitted infections at more than 180 locations nationwide. The Comprehensive STD Panel tests for several sexually transmitted diseases at the same time at one low price, including HIV, syphilis, herpes I and II, gonorrhea, chlamydia and hepatitis B and C. Patients can book an appointment online or walk in to get tested. The panel requires both a blood and urine sample and results are returned within three business days. All STD test results must be picked up at the location where you took the test to ensure privacy and comply with government guidelines.

Symptoms of STDs

One of the biggest threats of STDs and STIs is that many go undiagnosed and untreated. Knowing some of the symptoms of gonorrhea, chlamydia and syphilis is important to maintaining your sexual health. Individuals with gonorrhea and chlamydia may experience discharge and burning when urinating. Men may also experience pain or swelling in one or both testicles. The symptoms of syphilis vary by stage but include sores, rashes and lesions, as well as fever, swollen lymph glands, sore throat, patchy hair loss, headaches, weight loss, muscle aches and fatigue.

Unfortunately, many STDs and STIs do not have any symptoms, which makes the importance of regular testing essential.

Long-term impact of STDs

Many of the effects of sexually transmitted diseases are not felt until later in life. It is estimated that undiagnosed STDs cause infertility in more than 20,000 women each year, the CDC reports. Untreated STDs can increase a person’s risk of contracting HIV, the virus that causes AIDS, according to the CDC.

Congenital syphilis is passed from a mother to her baby during pregnancy. It can lead to miscarriage, stillbirth and newborn death, as well as severe lifelong physical and neurological problems. Newborn deaths related to congenital syphilis are up 22 percent in 2018, resulting in 94 deaths, versus 74 the prior year. The national rise in congenital syphilis parallels increases in syphilis among women of reproductive age. Syphilis cases increased 36 percent among women of childbearing age in 2018, versus the prior year. 

“There are tools available to prevent every case of congenital syphilis,” said Gail Bolan, M.D., director of CDC’s Division of STD Prevention, in a statement. “Testing is simple, and can help women to protect their babies from syphilis — a preventable disease that can have irreversible consequences.”

How often should I get tested for STDs?

The CDC recommends that any sexually active adult get tested for STDs regularly, depending on your age and number of sexual partners. Here’s the breakdown:

  • All adults and adolescents from ages 13 to 64 should be tested at least once for HIV. Anyone who has unsafe sex or shares injection drug equipment should get tested for HIV at least once a year.
  • All sexually active women should be tested for gonorrhea and chlamydia every year until they are 25 years old. 
  • All pregnant women should be tested for syphilis, HIV, and hepatitis B.
  • All sexually active gay and bisexual men should be tested annually for syphilis, chlamydia, and gonorrhea. Those who have multiple or anonymous partners should be tested more frequently for STDs, including HIV.

If your test comes back positive, it is important to contact your doctor for treatment. Most STDs are curable, and all of them are treatable, the CDC reports.

If your test is negative, take a few steps to lower your risk of contracting an STD or STI in the future.

  1. Practice abstinence.
  2. Use condoms.
  3. Have fewer sexual partners. Keep the lines of communication open and talk to your partners about their sexual history.
  4. Get vaccinated. The HPV vaccine is readily available and safe. It protects against the human papillomavirus, one of the most common STDs.

Book an appointment online, or walk into an Any Lab Test Now location to understand your sexual health and ensure your future fertility and peace of mind.