STD / STI April National Awareness Month – FREE testing

The abbreviated form of sexually transmitted diseases has been used for years to describe infections that are contagious. STI – sexually transmitted infections is actually the more accurate term, but it is still not in common usage. So the initials STD are used to focus on awareness this month to the sexually transmitted infections.

In Philadelphia you can get free testing at the Mazzoni Center for LGBT Health & Well-Being. Your sexually orientation is not taken into account if you are interested in their services. If you reside at a distance, google your town and find a center that might normally offer these services for a fee and perhaps they too are making an exception for the month of April.

Excerpts from the Mazzoni Center article on their free STD/STI testing.

April is STD Awareness Month: an annual observance to raise public awareness about the impact of Sexually Transmitted Diseases on the lives of Americans and the importance of discussing sexual health with your healthcare providers and sex partners.

It’s a good reminder of the importance of being “out” and open with your healthcare provider, since knowing about your sexual practices helps them know which screenings are most appropriate for you.

That being said, there are plenty of people who find it uncomfortable or inconvenient to visit their primary care doctor for an STD screening every three or six months.  That’s why we offer free, walk-in screening at theWashington West Project at 1201 Locust Street.  It’s a safe and comfortable place where you can get accurate information and have an open conversation with one of our counselors without the fear of being judged about your sexual history or behavior.

Why does this matter?  Because every year there are more than 19 million new cases of sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) in the U.S. By age 25, an estimated one in two sexually active young people will get one.  Contrary to some commonly held myths, you can get STDs through oral sex, and you may have an STD even if you don’t experience any obvious symptoms.  The only way to know if you or your partner has an STD is to get screened.

If you haven’t been in to see us at Wash West before, we thought we’d take the opportunity to answer some basic questions about the services we offer, and what to expect when you make a visit.

Who should get tested?

Anyone who is sexually active!  We recommend every three months if you are having sex with more than one partner; otherwise every six months is a good rule of thumb.  STDs are very common, and it only takes one sexual experience to get one.  While there are some warning signs to watch out for – such as itching, rash, sores, discharge, a burning sensation when urinating, and/or fever-like symptoms – it’s important to note that many STDs will have absolutely NO symptoms, so you can’t always tells by how you’re feeling, or the way someone else ‘looks.’  It’s worth repeating that the only way to know if you or anyone else has an STD is to get tested.

Don’t wait for someone else to recommend you get tested – if it’s been a while, make sure you come in!  Many health providers fail to ask questions about a patient’s sexual activity or behavior, so they don’t realize who may be at risk.

What should I get tested for?

 

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