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Sexually Transmitted Infection Testing Topics

Sexually Transmitted Infection Testing - Topic Overview

Sexually transmitted infections (STIs) are some of the most widespread infections both in the United States and the world. STIs affect both men and women, and two-thirds of all STIs occur in people younger than 25. Exposure to an STI can occur any time you have sexual contact that involves the genitals, the mouth (oral), or the rectum (anal). Exposure is more likely if you have more than one sex partner or do not use condoms. Some STIs can be spread by nonsexual contact, such as during the delivery of a baby or during breast-feeding.

It is important to practice safer sex with all partners, especially if you or they have high-risk sexual behaviors.

There are at least 20 different STIs. Testing recommendations for some of the most common STIs in the U.S. follow. In general, testing is recommended for those at high risk.

Chlamydia

Chlamydia is a common STI in the United States. Left untreated, chlamydia can lead to many complications, especially for women. If a woman has chlamydia when she gives birth, her newborn can have the infection.

The U.S. Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF) strongly recommends chlamydia testing for all sexually active women age 24 and younger. The USPSTF also recommends testing for women older than 24 with high-risk sexual behaviors. The task force does not state how often to be screened. After reviewing all of the research, the USPSTF has not recommended for or against regular chlamydia screening for men.1

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends screening every year for sexually active adolescents and women up to age 25. Women older than 25 who have high-risk sexual behaviors also should be screened every year.2 You may have a urine test for chlamydia (if it is available in your area) even if you do not have a full pelvic or genital exam.

The CDC recommends tests for pregnant women with high-risk sexual behaviors so they do not spread chlamydia to their babies. All pregnant women should be screened during their first prenatal visit. If a pregnant woman is at high risk for chlamydia, she may be tested again during her third trimester.

The CDC also recommends you have the test again 3 to 12 months after you finish treatment. Women who have been diagnosed and treated for chlamydia may get it again if they have sex with the same partner or partners.2

For more information, see the topic Chlamydia.

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WebMD Medical Reference from Healthwise

Last Updated: November 16, 2012
This information is not intended to replace the advice of a doctor. Healthwise disclaims any liability for the decisions you make based on this information.
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