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The STD test is what detects a sexually transmitted bacteria, virus, or parasite. Anyone who is sexually active is at risk for STDs and should be tested regularly. Doctors recommend routine STD testing every year. It is also recommended to get tested every time there is a new partner. It’s smart to get tested if you think your partner has also been unfaithful.

But what exactly is an STD? Short for sexually transmitted disease, it is an infection that is commonly spread during sexual contact. STD tests that are completed in a doctor’s office or laboratory is what tells a person whether or not they have been infected.

Common STDs include chlamydia, gonorrhea, hepatitis A, B, and C, herpes 1 and 2, HIV, HPV (genital warts), pubic (crab) lice, syphilis, trichomoniasis, and vaginitis. Some of these are bacteria, some are viruses, and some are parasites. Let’s discuss the difference.

bacteria are infections that are usually cured with a specific type of antibiotic. Antibiotics are drugs that kill bacteria in the body. They require a prescription prescribed by a doctor. Sexually transmitted bacteria include gonorrhea, chlamydia, and syphilis. These bacteria are easy to cure with the right antibiotics. If left untreated, they can lead to major health problems.

virus are infections that are often treated with a prescription antiviral medication. A viral infection cannot be eliminated with antibiotic medications. The body can kill certain viral infections naturally, but others can live in the body forever. Antiviral medications suppress a virus and prevent it from multiplying rapidly in the body. Many people who use antiviral medications are able to lead active, normal, and healthy lifestyles. Viruses that can be transmitted during sexual contact include hepatitis, herpes, HIV (human immunodeficiency virus), and HPV (human papillomavirus). Antiviral medications are available to treat many of these infections. If left untreated, they can cause serious health complications. Doctors and researchers are continually working on new drugs to suppress and/or cure these infections.

parasites They are small or microscopic insects that live in or on the body. Some of them are transmitted through sexual activity. Medications are available to treat these types of parasites. Common parasitic STDs include pubic lice (often called “crabs”), intestinal parasites, scabies, and trichomoniasis. A doctor can test for these parasites. Most of the time they are cured with over-the-counter or prescription medications. It is important to be correctly diagnosed by a doctor and treated quickly.

Vaginitis, since it tends to affect many women of all ages, can be sexually transmitted. It can be caused by bacteria, a virus, or a parasite. Vaginitis caused by sexually transmitted bacteria is often called bacterial vaginosis. Vaginitis can also be caused by nonsexual factors, such as chemicals, perfumes, soaps, or poor hygiene. It must be treated properly to avoid complications. Treatment depends on the type of vaginitis that is diagnosed and is determined by a doctor.

All of these infections are quite common and can spread very quickly. The only way to know if a person has a sexually transmitted infection is with an FDA-approved STD test.

Simple STD tests with a small urine or blood sample can easily detect common bacteria and viruses that are passed between people during sexual activity. It is important for people to get tested for STDs regularly. Certain STDs left untreated can lead to serious health complications, including cancer, infertility, and death.

Some STDs can cause symptoms right away. Others may appear to have no symptoms until it is too late to treat. Regular STD tests allow people to learn their STD status and get prompt treatment. Proper treatment can stop the spread of many STDs. It can also prevent partners from infecting or reinfecting each other.

Many women think that getting a routine Pap test is all they need when it comes to their sexual health. This is not true. A Pap test only detects cancerous or precancerous cells on the cervix (usually caused by HPV). It does not detect other common sexually transmitted infections. A complete STD test at a laboratory is important for women to know if they have a sexually transmitted disease.

Sometimes men are afraid to get tested for STDs. They think it may require a painful procedure like inserting a tube into the penis. However, the STD tests that doctors usually recommend do not require this procedure at all. All that is required is a small urine or blood sample, depending on the test.

The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports that millions of people are infected with a sexually transmitted infection each year. They also report that getting one STD increases the risk of getting another. Regular and routine STD testing is recommended to help stop the spread of many of these diseases.

Regardless of a person’s age, gender, race, or sexual preference, STD testing is important. If you are sexually active, you can get an STD. Abstinence (not engaging in any sexual activity) is the only way to avoid this risk. Sexually transmitted infections can be cured or controlled, but they must first be properly detected.

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