Tag Archive for: STD

Q&A: Sexually Transmitted Diseases and Infections

Sexually transmitted diseases and infections (STDs and STIs) often have no symptoms but can lead to chronic health conditions if left undiagnosed or untreated. That’s why it is so important to get tested at least once and on a regular basis if you are more at risk due to multiple sexual partners or unprotected sex.

NOAH healthcare provider and STD, STI, and HIV expert Sarah DeRubeis gives answers to commonly asked questions about prevention, testing, and treatment.

Q. How does NOAH test for STDs, STIs and HIV?

A. To test for all STDs, STIs, and HIV, you will need a visual exam, blood draw and urine analysis; all of which can be performed at any NOAH health center.

Q. Is there one test for everything or does someone need to request to be tested for each disease specifically?

A. Each test can be ordered individually. However, most providers order a full panel for patients who have had an exposure or are wanting a screening for STDs, STIs, and HIV.

Q. Is an appointment required?

A. An appointment is required with a health care provider to get an order for STD, STI and HIV testing.

Q. How much does testing cost?

A. There is typically no cost to the patient if the testing is completed as part of a visit with a NOAH healthcare provider.

Q. How long does it take to get results?

A. Timing of results varies based on the type of test. Results for Rapid HIV testing are usually available in as little as 20 minutes. The STD and STI testing with urine and blood can take two to three business days to report and a skin biopsy can take up to seven days.

Q. Who should get tested and how often?

A. Every patient who is sexually active or otherwise at risk should get tested for STDs, STIs and HIV. NOAH providers recommend patients get tested yearly or before engaging in sexual activity with new partners. Even if you don’t have risk factors, it’s a good idea to get tested at least once.    

Q. What are typical treatments if someone tests positive?

A. Most STDs, STIs and even HIV can be treated or even cured with prescription medication. Getting tested and diagnosed is the first step in treating the issue AND preventing it from spreading to others.

Q. If someone tests positive for an STD, STI, or HIV and is treated elsewhere, is it important to share this info with their NOAH health care provider?

A. STD, STI, and HIV testing, diagnosis, and treatment should always be reported to your healthcare provider. This information should be provided as part of your standard health history questionnaire which is completed at your first appointment.

Q. What are the best ways to prevent STDs, STIs, and HIV?

A. The Center for Disease Control (CDC) recommends all individuals who are sexually active protect themselves and others from exposure to STDs, STIs, and HIV. Prevention methods include testing regularly for STDs, STIs, and HIV, using condoms or choosing not to have sex, and refraining from any other risky behavior. There are also vaccines available for human papillomavirus (HPV) and hepatitis B. To reduce the risk of contracting HIV, patients should also consider taking daily pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) HIV prevention medication.  

We encourage you to discuss STD, STI, and HIV testing and prevention with your NOAH healthcare provider. Learn even more about awareness, prevention, and testing for STDs, STIs and HIV in this informative article.

Sexually Transmitted Diseases Awareness Month

By Larissa D. Wiley, PA-C

April is Sexually Transmitted Disease Awareness Month also known as Sexually Transmitted Infections (STI) and we all need more awareness about this issue. Awareness of STDs, prevention efforts, and appropriate treatment for STDs are critical for an individual’s health. According to the CDC, there are 20 million new STD diagnoses every year in America, however, most Americans aren’t aware that they are on the rise.

A problem on the rise

Adolescents make up over half of newly diagnosed STDs but represent only 25% of those who are sexually active.  Human Papillomavirus (HPV) is the most common STD at 14 million new cases per year, followed by chlamydia at 2.8 million cases.  All demographic groups are seeing increases in diseases.

In 2018, Maricopa county ranked among the highest for chlamydia and gonorrhea cases. According to Arizona Department of Health Services, gonorrhea has increased 94% in the last five years!

Based on the increase and our 4.4 million residents in Maricopa county, in 2018 there were 27,045 chlamydia cases, 9,085 gonorrhea cases and 801 primary and secondary syphilis cases. That means Maricopa county – just one county – was responsible for 1.5% of all chlamydia and gonorrhea cases and 2.2% of all primary and secondary syphilis cases in the entire country!

What a positive diagnosis means

Many STIs have no symptoms, but they can still be passed to other people, and some STDs have lifelong consequences.  Early diagnosis and treatment are critical! Many STDs can be cured or easily managed by your medical provider.

If these diseases are not addressed:

  • Human Papillomavirus (HPV) can result in reproductive cancers.
  • Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV) is incurable and leads to a constellation of health complications including AIDS.
  • Syphilis can cause blindness, paralysis, heart damage and various neurological complications, as well as serious complications when spread from mother to baby.
  • Untreated gonorrhea and chlamydia infections can result in infertility.

Prevention is key

Thankfully, sexually transmitted diseases are largely preventable. The Gardasil9 vaccine prevents nine different high-risk forms of HPV. The HPV vaccine also reduced genital warts and cervical cancer rates by over 71% from 2006 to 2016. There is also a Hepatitis B vaccine which is available for all age groups and is over 98% effective.

Medications like the Pre-Exposure (PrEP) and Post-Exposure Prophylaxis (PEP) reduce HIV infections; PrEP is started prior to HIV exposure and PEP is for HIV-negative patients who were exposed to someone with HIV. More information about this is available from the CDC here.

Sexually transmitted disease awareness is important to your health, and safety measures can reduce the risk of sexually transmitted diseases. Use a latex or polyurethane condom, limit your number of sexual partners, avoid sexual behaviors that could compromise condom effectiveness, and test for STDs before becoming sexually active with a new partner.

If you do contract a sexually transmitted disease, seek treatment early rather than waiting; this could reduce permanent damage and spread.  Please talk to your primary care provider about any questions you may have.  At NOAH, we are here to help and answer question about all aspects of your health, including your sexual and reproductive health. Talk to a NOAH provider today!