So you’ve heard it all before. “Get yourself tested.” “Go to the clinic.” “Use a condom.” Yet 1.3 million cases of chlamydia alone were reported to the Center for Disease Control in its latest 2010 surveillance report. The CDC estimates 19 million new sexually transmitted infections (STIs) every year in the U.S., costing the health care system $17 billion. Many STIs are not reported and many people have never been tested, so the numbers could be much higher. To see the full report click here.
Still not convinced that you should get tested? Here are a few things to think about:
• I’d know if I or my partner had a STI. The most common symptom of an STI is NO symptom. So many people think they would know if they or their partner have an STI. Even if they took a really good look down there before having sex with someone, there would be no tell-tale signs for many of the most common infections.
• But I trust my partner. I truly hope your partner is worthy of your trust but be realistic. How many people do you know who have had sex outside of a presumably monogamous relationship or who thought they were in a monogamous relationship but found out they were not? An all-too common phrase I’ve heard is, “I trusted him/her and now I’m scared.”
• I use condoms most of the time. So what is the reason you don’t use them all of the time? I’ve heard it all: “I didn’t have one,” “He/she didn’t want me to use one,” “Sex just happened.” You’ve got a 50% chance of contracting chlamydia or gonorrhea with just one exposure.
• I’m sure my partner would tell me if he/she had a STI. Don’t be so sure of that. About half of the people who know they have HIV don’t tell. They may not tell for many reasons. Some just can’t find the words, are afraid of being judged, or are in denial. Some just don’t care.
• I’m afraid to get tested. Gonorrhea and chlamydia testing is as simple as giving a urine sample. HIV can be tested by an oral swab or blood draw. HSV (herpes simplex virus) and HPV (human papilloma virus) are often diagnosed by a health care provider’s visual exam. HPV is also detected by a pap smear. Don’t be afraid – it’s easy!
• I’m afraid I’ll be judged for what I’ve done. People who work in the reproductive health field are comfortable talking about sex. We don’t judge you, shame you, or reprimand you. We’re here to help and educate.
Join us – along with MTV, the CDC and the Kaiser Family Foundation – to make this year’s GYT event a success. For more information about GYT check out this website. Planned Parenthood’s GYT special testing day will take place on Tuesday, April 24 at six of our seven health centers; check our Facebook page later this week for information.