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WHO SHOULD TAKE AN STD TEST?

There are times when getting tested for STDs becomes a matter of necessity and responsibility, regardless of where it lies on your priority list.  You will find below, essential reasons that will contribute to your overall health. Getting tested at one of our local std testing centers is not only easy, but quick and private. 


It is always a best practice to get tested for an STD regardless of whether your partner agrees with you or not.

Never assume you are clean just because you are not experiencing any symptoms.  It is always possible for symptoms to gradually show up as everyone experiences symptoms differently.  People might be infected and not be aware they are carrying a sexually transmitted disease.  Getting tested is the only way to know for sure if you are “clean” for not.  STD tests are available through simple blood and urine screening at one of our convenient STD testing centers. 


There is someone that you’ve just met and are really into.  You’re thinking of taking it to the next level- unprotected sex.

 

When considering participating in unprotected sex, it is highly recommended that both partners get tested. Some STDs are not readily visible, blinding you to the possibility of being vulnerable to infection.  STD testing is a healthy practice for relationship growth as it eliminates any doubts from previous relationships.

You’ve engaged in promiscuous behavior in the past.

It is highly recommended that you get tested regularly, more so when engaging with multiple sex partners.  In cases where symptoms are not visible, it is always a good practice to get tested. Getting tested early on at a STD test center can be a major deterrent in transmission. 

TESTING for HIV

Getting tested regularly is a very effective method of preventing the spread of  HIV.  HIV can remain undetected due to the lack of symptoms and signs.  The most common test is the Elisa (antibody); after 3 months of exposure the test is conclusive.  When exposure occurs early, the PCR can determine if you’re infected within 9 days to 3 months.  PCR testing is a very sensitive method of testing.  The infected white blood cell that the HIV virus integrates into is looked for by the HIV DNA PCR.  The test is good after 2 weeks and conclusive at 1 month.  HIV RNA PCR looks for flowing particles of HIV that are located in the blood stream.  It is thought to be accurate after a 7 day period.


Most infections have no symptoms and often go undiagnosed and untreated, which may lead to severe health consequences, especially for women. The only way to know for sure is to be tested. Talk to a counselor about which STD tests are right for you.


STD TESTING


Genital Herpes
 

Genital herpes is a common STD, but most people who have genital herpes don't know it. There are often no symptoms. If you have symptoms the most common ones are painful blisters and sores, although roughly 85% of people with genital herpes are either asymptomatic or have very subtle, unrecognizable symptoms. There is no cure for genital herpes, but there are treatments for the symptoms. The Herpes blood test can help determine your status without symptoms.
 
Chlamydia
 

Most people who have chlamydia don't know it but if left untreated, chlamydia can result in serious health problems, such as infertility in women. A simple test can tell you if you have chlamydia. Young, sexually active females need testing every year.
 
Gonorrhea
 

Many people who have gonorrhea don't know it. Especially in women, the disease often has no symptoms. A simple test by a health care provider can tell if you have gonorrhea. Gonorrhea is easy to treat and cure.
 
Syphilis
 

Syphilis is passed from person to person through direct contact with a syphilis sore during vaginal, anal or oral sex. The sore is painless. A blood test by can tell you if you have syphilis. Syphilis is easy to treat and cure in its early stages.
 

QUESTIONS?

How do I know I'm infected with HIV?

The only way to know if you are infected is to be tested for HIV. You cannot rely on symptoms to know whether or not you are infected with HIV. Many people who are infected with HIV  have no symptoms at all for many years.
The following may be signs of HIV infection :
  • rapid weight loss
  • dry cough
  • recurring fever or profuse night sweats
  • profound and unexplained fatigue
  • swollen lymph glands in the armpits, groin, or neck
  • diarrhea that lasts for more than a week
  • white spots or unusual blemishes on the tongue, in the mouth, or in the throat
  • pneumonia
  • red, brown, pink, or purplish blotches on or under the skin or inside the mouth, nose, or eyelids
  • memory loss, depression, and other neurological disorders
No one should assume they are infected if they have any of these symptoms. These symptoms can be related to other illnesses. Again, the only way to know whether you are infected is to be tested for HIV .
Also, you cannot rely on symptoms to know that a person has AIDS. AIDS symptoms are similar of many other illnesses. AIDS is a diagnosis made by a doctor based on specific criteria established by the CDC.
 

How is HIV passed from person to person?

HIV transmission can occur when blood, semen , pre-seminal fluid , vaginal fluid, or breast milk from an infected person enters the body of an uninfected person.
HIV can enter the body through a vein (e.g., injection drug use), the lining of the anus or rectum, the lining of the vagina and/or cervix, the opening to the penis, the mouth, other mucous membranes (e.g., eyes or inside of the nose), or cuts and sores. Intact, healthy skin is an excellent barrier against HIV and other viruses and bacteria.
These are the most common ways that HIV is transmitted from one person to another:
  • by having sex (anal, vaginal, or oral) with an HIV-infected person;
  • by sharing needles or injection equipment with an injection drug user who is infected with HIV; or
  • from HIV-infected women to babies before or during birth, or through breast-feeding after birth.
HIV also can be transmitted through receipt of infected blood or blood clotting factors. However, since 1985, all donated blood in the United States has been tested for HIV. Therefore, the risk of infection through transfusion of blood or blood products is extremely low. The U.S. blood supply is considered to be among the safest in the world.
 
Some health-care workers have become infected after being stuck with needles containing HIV-infected blood or, less frequently, when infected blood comes in contact with the worker's open cut or is splashed into the worker's eyes or inside his or her nose. There has been only one instance of patients being infected by an HIV-infected health care worker. This involved HIV transmission from an infected dentist to six patients.
 

Which body fluids transmit HIV?

These body fluids have been shown to contain high concentrations of HIV:
  • blood
  • semen
  • vaginal fluid
  • breast milk
  • other body fluids containing blood
The following are additional body fluids that may transmit the virus that health care workers may come into contact with:
  • fluid surrounding the brain and the spinal cord
  • fluid surrounding bone joints
  • fluid surrounding an unborn baby
HIV has been found in the saliva and tears of some persons living with HIV, but in very low quantities. It is important to understand that finding a small amount of HIV in a body fluid does not necessarily mean that HIV can be transmitted by that body fluid. HIV has not been recovered from the sweat of HIV-infected persons. Contact with saliva, tears, or sweat has never been shown to result in transmission of HIV.
 

How well does HIV survive outside the body?

Scientists and medical authorities agree that HIV does not survive well outside the body, making the possibility of environmental transmission remote. HIV is found in varying concentrations or amounts in blood, semen, vaginal fluid, breast milk, saliva, and tears. To obtain data on the survival of HIV, laboratory studies have required the use of artificially high concentrations of laboratory-grown virus. Although these unnatural concentrations of HIV can be kept alive for days or even weeks under precisely controlled and limited laboratory conditions, CDC studies have shown that drying of even these high concentrations of HIV reduces the amount of infectious virus by 90 to 99 percent within several hours. Since the HIV concentrations used in laboratory studies are much higher than those actually found in blood or other specimens, drying of HIV-infected human blood or other body fluids reduces the theoretical risk of environmental transmission to that which has been observed -- essentially zero. Incorrect interpretations of conclusions drawn from laboratory studies have in some instances caused unnecessary alarm.
Results from laboratory studies should not be used to assess specific personal risk of infection because (1) the amount of virus studied is not found in human specimens or elsewhere in nature, and (2) no one has been identified as infected with HIV due to contact with an environmental surface. Additionally, HIV is unable to reproduce outside its living host (unlike many bacteria or fungi, which may do so under suitable conditions), except under laboratory conditions; therefore, it does not spread or maintain infectiousness outside its host.
 

Can I get HIV from kissing on the cheek?

HIV is not transmitted casually, so kissing on the cheek is very safe. Even if the other person has the virus, your unbroken skin is a good barrier. No one has become infected from such ordinary social contact as dry kisses, hugs, and handshakes.
 

Can I get HIV from open-mouth kissing?

Open-mouth kissing is considered a very low-risk activity for the transmission of HIV. However, prolonged open-mouth kissing could damage the mouth or lips and allow HIV to pass from an infected person to a partner and then enter the body through cuts or sores in the mouth. Because of this possible risk, the CDC recommends against open-mouth kissing with an infected partner.
One case suggests that a woman became infected with HIV from her sex partner through exposure to contaminated blood during open-mouth kissing. For more information refer to the July 11, 1997 Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report "Transmission of HIV Possibly Associated With Exposure of Mucous Membrane to Contaminated Blood".
 

Can I get HIV from oral sex?

Yes, it is possible for either partner to become infected with HIV through performing or receiving oral sex. There have been a few cases of HIV transmission from performing oral sex on a person infected with HIV. While no one knows exactly what the degree of risk is, evidence suggests that the risk is less than that of unprotected anal or vaginal sex.
If the person performing oral sex has HIV, blood from their mouth may enter the body of the person receiving oral sex through
  • the lining of the urethra (the opening at the tip of the penis);
  • the lining of the vagina or cervix;
  • the lining of the anus; or
  • directly into the body through small cuts or open sores.
If the person receiving oral sex has HIV, their blood, semen (cum), pre-seminal fluid (pre-cum), or vaginal fluid may contain the virus. Cells lining the mouth of the person performing oral sex may allow HIV to enter their body.
The risk of HIV transmission increases
  • if the person performing oral sex has cuts or sores around or in their mouth or throat;
  • if the person receiving oral sex ejaculates in the mouth of the person performing oral sex; or
  • if the person receiving oral sex has another sexually transmitted disease (STD).
Not having (abstaining from) sex is the most effective way to avoid HIV.
If you choose to perform oral sex, and your partner is male,
  • use a latex condom on the penis; or
  • if you or your partner is allergic to latex, plastic (polyurethane) condoms can be used.
Studies have shown that latex condoms are very effective, though not perfect, in preventing HIV transmission when used correctly and consistently. If either partner is allergic to latex, plastic (polyurethane) condoms for either the male or female can be used.
If you choose to have oral sex, and your partner is female,
  • use a latex barrier (such as a natural rubber latex sheet, a dental dam or a cut-open condom that makes a square) between your mouth and the vagina. A latex barrier such as a dental dam reduces the risk of blood or vaginal fluids entering your mouth. Plastic food wrap also can be used as a barrier.
If you choose to perform oral sex with either a male or female partner and this sex includes oral contact with your partner's anus (analingus or rimming),
  • use a latex barrier (such as a natural rubber latex sheet, a dental dam or a cut-open condom that makes a square) between your mouth and the anus. Plastic food wrap also can be used as a barrier.
If you choose to share sex toys with your partner, such as dildos or vibrators,
  • each partner should use a new condom on the sex toy; and
  • be sure to clean sex toys between each use.
 

Can I get HIV from having vaginal sex?*

Yes, it is possible for either partner to become infected with HIV through vaginal sex* (intercourse). In fact, it is the most common way the virus is transmitted in much of the world. HIV can be found in the blood, semen (cum), pre-seminal fluid (pre-cum) or vaginal fluid of a person infected with the virus.
In women, the lining of the vagina can sometimes tear and possibly allow HIV to enter the body. HIV can also be directly absorbed through the mucous membranes that line the vagina and cervix.
In men, HIV can enter the body through the urethra (the opening at the tip of the penis) or through small cuts or open sores on the penis.
Risk for HIV infection increases if you or a partner has a sexually transmitted disease (STD).
Not having (abstaining from) sex is the most effective way to avoid HIV. If you choose to have vaginal sex, use a latex condom to help protect both you and your partner from HIV and other STDs. Studies have shown that latex condoms are very effective, though not perfect, in preventing HIV transmission when used correctly and consistently. If either partner is allergic to latex, plastic (polyurethane) condoms for either the male or female can be used.
 
* For the purpose of this FAQ, vaginal sex or intercourse refers to sexual activity between a man and a woman involving the insertion of the penis into the vagina.
 
 
 

Can I get HIV from anal sex?

Yes. In fact, unprotected (without a condom) anal sex (intercourse) is considered to be very risky behavior. It is possible for either sex partner to become infected with HIV during anal sex. HIV can be found in the blood, semen, pre-seminal fluid, or vaginal fluid of a person infected with the virus. In general, the person receiving the semen is at greater risk of getting HIV because the lining of the rectum is thin and may allow the virus to enter the body during anal sex. However, a person who inserts his penis into an infected partner also is at risk because HIV can enter through the urethra (the opening at the tip of the penis) or through small cuts, abrasions, or open sores on the penis.
Not having (abstaining from) sex is the most effective way to avoid HIV. If people choose to have anal sex, they should use a latex condom. Most of the time, condoms work well. However, condoms are more likely to break during anal sex than during vaginal sex. Thus, even with a condom, anal sex can be risky. A person should use generous amounts of water-based lubricant in addition to the condom to reduce the chances of the condom breaking.
 
 

Are "lesbians" or other women who have sex with women at risk for HIV?

Female-to-female transmission of HIV appears to be a rare occurrence. However, there are case reports of female-to-female transmission of HIV. The well documented risk of female-to-male transmission of HIV shows that vaginal secretions and menstrual blood may contain the virus and that mucous membrane (e.g., oral, vaginal) exposure to these secretions has the potential to lead to HIV infection.
In order to reduce the risk of HIV transmission, women who have sex with women should do the following:
  • Avoid exposure of a mucous membrane, such as the mouth, (especially non-intact tissue) to vaginal secretions and menstrual blood.
  • Use condoms consistently and correctly each and every time for sexual contact with men or when using sex toys. Sex toys should not be shared. No barrier methods for use during oral sex have been evaluated as effective by the FDA. However, natural rubber latex sheets, dental dams, cut open condoms, or plastic wrap may offer some protection from contact with body fluids during oral sex and possibly reduce the risk of HIV transmission.
  • Know your own and your partner's HIV status. This knowledge can help uninfected women begin and maintain behavioral changes that reduce the risk of becoming infected. For women who are found to be infected, it can assist in getting early treatment and avoiding infecting others.
 

How effective are latex condoms in preventing HIV?

Studies have shown that latex condoms are highly effective in preventing HIV transmission when used consistently and correctly. These studies looked at uninfected people considered to be at very high risk of infection because they were involved in sexual relationships with HIV-infected people. The studies found that even with repeated sexual contact, 98-100 percent of those people who used latex condoms correctly and consistently did not become infected.
 

Is there a connection between HIV and other sexually transmitted diseases?

Yes. Having a sexually transmitted disease (STD) can increase a person's risk of becoming infected with HIV, whether the STD causes open sores or breaks in the skin (e.g., syphilis, herpes, chancroid) or does not cause breaks in the skin (e.g., chlamydia, gonorrhea).
If the STD infection causes irritation of the skin, breaks or sores may make it easier for HIV to enter the body during sexual contact. Even when the STD causes no breaks or open sores, the infection can stimulate an immune response in the genital area that can make HIV transmission more likely.
In addition, if an HIV-infected person also is infected with another STD, that person is three to five times more likely than other HIV-infected persons to transmit HIV through sexual contact.
Not having (abstaining from) sexual intercourse is the most effective way to avoid STDs, including HIV. For those who choose to be sexually active, the following HIV prevention activities are highly effective:
  • Engaging in sex that does not involve vaginal or anal intercourse or oral sex,
  • Having sex with only one uninfected partner, or
  • Using latex condoms every time you have sex.
 
 

Why is injecting drugs a risk for HIV?

At the start of every intravenous injection, blood is introduced into the needle and syringe. HIV can be found in the blood of a person infected with the virus. The reuse of a blood-contaminated needle or syringe by another drug injector (sometimes called "direct syringe sharing") carries a high risk of HIV transmission because infected blood can be injected directly into the bloodstream.
Sharing drug equipment (or "works") can be a risk for spreading HIV. Infected blood can be introduced into drug solutions by:
  • using blood-contaminated syringes to prepare drugs;
  • reusing water;
  • reusing bottle caps, spoons, or other containers ("spoons" and "cookers") used to dissolve drugs in water and to heat drug solutions; or
  • reusing small pieces of cotton or cigarette filters ("cottons") used to filter out particles that could block the needle.
"Street sellers" of syringes may repackage used syringes and sell them as sterile syringes. For this reason, people who continue to inject drugs should obtain syringes from reliable sources of sterile syringes, such as pharmacies. It is important to know that sharing a needle or syringe for any use, including skin popping and injecting steroids, can put one at risk for HIV and other blood-borne infections.
The CDC rec 

Can I get HIV from getting a tattoo or through body piercing?

A risk of HIV transmission does exist if instruments contaminated with blood are either not sterilized or disinfected or are used inappropriately between clients. CDC recommends that instruments that are intended to penetrate the skin be used once, then disposed of or thoroughly cleaned and sterilized.
Personal service workers who do tattooing or body piercing should be educated about how HIV is transmitted and take precautions to prevent transmission of HIV and other blood-borne infections in their settings.
If you are considering getting a tattoo or having your body pierced, ask staff at the establishment what procedures they use to prevent the spread of HIV and other blood-borne infections, such as hepatitis B virus. You also may call the local health department to find out what sterilization procedures are in place in the local area for these types of establishments.
 

Are health care workers at risk of getting HIV on the job?

The risk of health care workers being exposed to HIV on the job is very low, especially if they carefully follow universal precautions (i.e., using protective practices and personal protective equipment to prevent HIV and other blood-borne infections). It is important to remember that casual, everyday contact with an HIV-infected person does not expose health care workers or anyone else to HIV. For health care workers on the job, the main risk of HIV transmission is through accidental injuries from needles and other sharp instruments that may be contaminated with the virus; however even this risk is small. Scientists estimate that the risk of infection from a needle-stick is less than 1 percent, a figure based on the findings of several studies of health care workers who received punctures from HIV-contaminated needles or were otherwise exposed to HIV-contaminated blood.
 
Although the most important strategy for reducing the risk of occupational HIV transmission is to prevent occupational exposures, plans for postexposure management of health care personnel should be in place. For guidelines on management of occupational exposure, refer to the June 29, 2001 Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report, "Updated U.S. Public Health Service Guidelines for the Management of Occupational Exposures to HBV, HCV, and HIV and Recommendations for Postexposure Prophylaxis". 
 

Are patients in a health care setting at risk of getting HIV?

Although HIV transmission is possible in health care settings, it is extremely rare. Medical experts emphasize that the careful practice of infection control procedures, including universal precautions (i.e., using protective practices and personal protective equipment to prevent HIV and other blood-borne infections), protects patients as well as health care providers from possible HIV transmission in medical and dental offices and hospitals.
 
In 1990, the CDC reported on an HIV-infected dentist in Florida who apparently infected some of his patients while doing dental work. Studies of viral DNA sequences linked the dentist to six of his patients who were also HIV-infected. The CDC has not yet been able to establish how the transmission took place. No additional studies have found any evidence of transmission from provider to patient in health care settings.
CDC has documented rare cases of patients contracting HIV in health care settings from infected donor tissue. Most of these cases occurred due to failures in following universal precautions and infection control guidelines. Most also occurred early in the HIV epidemic, before established screening procedures were in place.
 

Can I get HIV while playing sports?

There are no documented cases of HIV being transmitted during participation in sports. The very low risk of transmission during sports participation would involve sports with direct body contact in which bleeding might be expected to occur.
If someone is bleeding, their participation in the sport should be interrupted until the wound stops bleeding and is both antiseptically cleaned and securely bandaged. There is no risk of HIV transmission through sports activities where bleeding does not occur.
 
 

Can I get HIV from casual contact (shaking hands, hugging, using a toilet, drinking from the same glass, or the sneezing and coughing of an infected person)?

No. HIV is not transmitted by day-to-day contact in the workplace, schools, or social settings. HIV is not transmitted through shaking hands, hugging, or a casual kiss. You cannot become infected from a toilet seat, a drinking fountain, a door knob, dishes, drinking glasses, food, or pets.
HIV is not an airborne or food-borne virus, and it does not live long outside the body. HIV can be found in the blood, semen, or vaginal fluid of an infected person. The three main ways HIV is transmitted are
  • through having sex (anal, vaginal, or oral) with someone infected with HIV.
  • through sharing needles and syringes with someone who has HIV.
  • through exposure (in the case of infants) to HIV before or during birth, or through breast feeding.
 
Although contact with blood and other body substances can occur in households, transmission of HIV is rare in this setting. A small number of transmission cases have been reported in which a person became infected with HIV as a result of contact with blood or other body secretions from an HIV-infected person in the household. For information on these cases refer to the May 20, 1994 Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report, "Human Immunodeficiency Virus Transmission in Household Settings -- United States".
Persons living with HIV and persons providing home care for those living with HIV should be fully educated and trained regarding appropriate infection-control procedures.
 

Can I get infected with HIV from mosquitoes?

No. From the start of the HIV epidemic there has been concern about HIV transmission from biting and bloodsucking insects, such as mosquitoes. However, studies conducted by the CDC and elsewhere have shown no evidence of HIV transmission through mosquitoes or any other insects -- even in areas where there are many cases of AIDS and large populations of mosquitoes. Lack of such outbreaks, despite intense efforts to detect them, supports the conclusion that HIV is not transmitted by insects.
The results of experiments and observations of insect biting behavior indicate that when an insect bites a person, it does not inject its own or a previously bitten person's or animal's blood into the next person bitten. Rather, it injects saliva, which acts as a lubricant so the insect can feed efficiently. Diseases such as yellow fever and malaria are transmitted through the saliva of specific species of mosquitoes. However, HIV lives for only a short time inside an insect and, unlike organisms that are transmitted via insect bites, HIV does not reproduce (and does not survive) in insects. Thus, even if the virus enters a mosquito or another insect, the insect does not become infected and cannot transmit HIV to the next human it bites.
There also is no reason to fear that a mosquito or other insect could transmit HIV from one person to another through HIV-infected blood left on its mouth parts. Several reasons help explain why this is so. First, infected people do not have constantly high levels of HIV in their blood streams. Second, insect mouth parts retain only very small amounts of blood on their surfaces. Finally, scientists who study insects have determined that biting insects normally do not travel from one person to the next immediately after ingesting blood. Rather, they fly to a resting place to digest the blood meal.
 

Can I get HIV from a bite?

Human Bite:
In 1997, CDC published findings from a state health department investigation of an incident that suggested blood-to-blood transmission of HIV by a human bite. There have been other rare reports in the medical literature in which HIV appeared to have been transmitted by a bite. Severe trauma with extensive tissue tearing and damage and presence of blood were reported in each of these instances. Biting is not a common way of transmitting HIV. In fact, there are numerous reports of bites that did not result in HIV infection.
Non-Human Bite:
HIV is a virus that infects humans and thus cannot be transmitted to or carried by non-human animals. The only exception to this is a few chimpanzees in laboratories that have been artificially infected with HIV. Because HIV is not found in non-human animals it is not possible for HIV to be transmitted from an animal bite, such as from a dog or cat.
Some animals can carry viruses that are similar to HIV, such as FIV (Feline Immunodeficiency Virus) found in cats or SIV (Simian Immunodeficiency Virus) found in apes. These viruses can only exist in their specific animal host and are not transmissible to humans.
 



 


 

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