Test yourself before you wreck yourself
Published: Wednesday, October 16, 2013
Updated: Wednesday, October 16, 2013 00:10
It is remarkable how many people don’t get tested for sexually transmitted diseases, despite clinics being available. UConn itself offers HIV testing (as well as other testing for sexually transmitted diseases), and there are other surrounding clinics that are willing to provide for you. The general consensus seems to be that it isn’t needed if you are currently involved in a relationship or if you use condoms (or even if you just practice the “pull-out method”). However, it is recommended that you get tested for STDs annually – you can get tested at a gynecologist appointment, but it has to be requested. There are some clinics, however, which suggest undergoing testing every six months if you are sexually active and regularly engage in risky sexual practices, such as having unprotected sex with multiple partners.
There are some sexually transmitted diseases that may not show symptoms until it’s too late. Chlamydia, for example, often does not show signs in women and syphilis can go undetected for months. HPV is also usually symptomless or results in signs so miniscule that the person infected with it may not notice. Genital warts, for example, might be located in a cervix, where they cannot easily be seen. Because STDs can be transmitted from mother to child (as is the case with gonorrhea), or have long-lasting effects on the victim, it’s important to nip it in the bud. Many STDs are treatable, but require quick action to prevent more serious consequences from taking hold. However, even after getting treatment, you can still be at risk of having another outbreak, as is the case with gonorrhea and herpes.
If you have multiple partners, it’s considerate to get tested so that you don’t infect anyone else. The process of telling your partners that you have an STD can be humiliating, so it’s best to verify yourself as clean beforehand. It should also go without saying that those with cold sores should refrain from practicing oral sex on their partners. Unfortunately, I’ve met more than a handful of people who have seemingly forgotten that herpes simplex one is incredibly easy to pass to another person. Although it’s not as severe as simplex two, it can still be incredibly painful and embarrassing to have.
Your best bet is to take precautions: use condoms, be discerning with your partners and get yourself tested once a year, whether or not you think you are displaying symptoms. A registered nurse that I spoke to recommended using latex condoms and/or dental dams for oral sex as well, as STDs are most commonly spread via the mouth. For those who dislike the taste of plain latex, there are flavored ones available. The important part is to take care of yourself, and your partners by default.