Sexually Transmitted Infection Awareness Week
April 11-17 is Sexually Transmitted Infection (STI) Awareness Week. STIs are also called sexually transmitted diseases (STDs). If you are sexually active, there are a few things you need to know.
First, STIs are preventable. You can lower your risk by using condoms and latex barriers during sex (oral, vaginal, and anal). Your VA provider can prescribe you condoms. There is also a daily medication called Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis or PrEP that is very effective at preventing HIV, an STI. PrEP is available at VA.
Second, STI tests are quick, simple, and usually painless. Talk to your partners about when you were last tested. Open communication is essential to protecting your health!
Finally, talk to your provider about your sexual health. They can provide information and resources on prevention, and let you know which screening tests you should have and how often.
Which STI tests should I get?
- All adults should be tested at least once for HIV.
- All sexually active women younger than 25 years should be tested for gonorrhea and chlamydia every year. Women 25 years and older with risk factors, such as new or multiple sex partners, or a sex partner who has an STD, also should be tested for gonorrhea and chlamydia every year.
- All pregnant women should be tested for syphilis, HIV, and hepatitis B starting early in pregnancy. At-risk pregnant women also should be tested for chlamydia and gonorrhea starting early in pregnancy.
- All sexually active men who have sex with men should be tested at least once a year for syphilis, chlamydia, gonorrhea, hepatitis C and HIV. Those who have multiple or anonymous partners should be tested more frequently for STDs (i.e., at 3- to 6-month intervals).
- Anyone who has unprotected sex or shares injection drug equipment should get tested for HIV at least once a year.
STI awareness week is the perfect time to get in touch with your provider and talk about testing.