Testing and Prevention

Testing

Some sexually transmitted infections (STIs) can go unnoticed or have symptoms that can be mistaken for a minor illness, including HIV. So the only way to know for sure that you have an STI is to get tested.

Also, research shows if you get an STI, you’re more likely to get HIV than someone who is STI-free. For example, syphilis is a sexually transmitted infection that shares similar transmission methods with HIV. The signs and symptoms for syphilis are not immediately apparent as it may take several weeks before they’re noticed. The most common symptoms for syphilis are a painless sore (chancre) on the penis, vagina, or rectum and a rash on the hands, feet, or abdomen. If not examined, tested and treated by a health care provider, these signs and symptoms will eventually disappear and may eventually lead to neurological damage.

As a result, the CDC and the Pennsylvania Department of Health suggest that individuals who engage in high risk sexual behavior get routine STI testing that includes chlamydia, gonorrhea, syphilis, and HIV.

You can find HIV and STD testing by entering your zip code at gettested.cdc.gov. If you don’t get result on your first try, you may need to broaden your search area beyond the preset ten mile radius. Some testing locations are free.

If you still need help in finding testing,  or have basic questions about STIs, you can send a message to our online outreach staff at rgy2@pitt.edu with the word “question” in the subject line. We usually respond within 24 hours.

Note that, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, HIV/STD testing and care providers may have changed their hours and/or ability to test and treat sexually transmitted infections. So if you’re looking for HIV/STD testing, always call the provider in advance, to determine if testing is currently available. To find out more about COVID-19, you can check out the CDC information online

Prevention

Research shows PrEP prevents HIV infection. PrEP stands for Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis and is a once-a-day pill that is prescribed by a doctor. To learn more about PrEP, go to HIV.gov.

To find a PrEP provider near you, enter your zip code on the PrEP Locator Website.

PrEP won’t, however, protect against other STIs like Syphilis, Gonorrhea, and Chlamydia.

Anyone who is sexually active can get an STI. Some groups are disproportionately affected:

  • Adolescents and Young Adults
  • Gay, Bisexual, & other Men who have Sex with Men
  • Some Racial and Ethnic Minorities

The Good News is that STIs ARE preventable. Here’s How You Can Avoid Giving or Getting an STI text page from the CDC. You can also download this pdf file with some helpful tips on how you can protect yourself and your partner. If you prefer something more colorful, click on the image below…

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