How often should I be tested?
Sometimes illness can strike without warning, changing your life in an instant. Other times, diseases can progress for years with little or no symptoms, and early detection could save your life. Screening tests exist, but may not be routinely performed by your physician, so itís important to ask your health care professional which tests may be right for you.
What are they?
The most common STI tests can be performed quickly in a single visit. Blood samples are required for HIV, Hepatitis and Syphilis testing, and a urine or swabbing sample is required for Herpes, Chlamydia and Gonorrhea.
Who should be tested and when?
STI testing is becoming more important as many STI rates are on the rise in Canada. From 1997-2002, Chlamydia rates in Canada rose by about 65%, and roughly 70% of these cases were in women; Syphilis rates also increased by 285%, to about one case in every 66,000 people.
STI screening is not routinely performed. If you or your partner engage in high-risk sexual behaviour, have had many sexual partners, or share needles or sex toys ask your health care professional to perform the testing. A good time may be before starting a sexual relationship with someone new. Some STIs have little or no symptoms, and may take months to show up in testing, so even after testing you should still use condoms to lower your risk.
What is it?
A Pelvic exam with a Pap test screens for cervical cancer and verifies that a womanís reproductive organs are healthy. Contrary to popular belief, pelvic exams do not test for sexually transmitted infections.
Who needs them and how often?
Depending on her age, history and the resources available in her community, pelvic exams are generally recommended every 1-3 years for all sexually active women or women over 18 years old.
The tests are also recommended for:
Ask your physician how often you should have the test.