Who Should Be Screened for STDs and How Often?

Who Should Be Screened for STDs and How Often?

Every year, more than 20 million new cases of sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) are reported in the United States. Worldwide, one million women, men, and even some children acquire STDs every single day.

Although STDs are common, many men and women are too uncomfortable or embarrassed to bring up screening with their health care provider. Or you may not be worried because you don’t have any symptoms. 

The problem is that some STDs have no symptoms, or it takes years before symptoms manifest. Since STDs are treatable in the early stages, you should get tested regularly, not just when you’re concerned about symptoms. 

At Gulf West Medical Associates, tests for STDs are a crucial part of our emphasis on preventative care. Rajesh B. Dave, MD, an expert and caring internist, encourages anyone who’s sexually active to get tested for STDs. 

Here are some answers to your questions about STDs as well as who should get tested and when, based on your age and sexual history. 

What are STIs and STDs?

Sexually transmitted infections (STIs) are infections with bacteria, viruses, or other organisms that are passed through vaginal, anal, or oral sexual intercourse, as well as through intimate touch. When an STI causes symptoms, it’s referred to as an STD. People also refer to STDs as venereal diseases. 

There are many types of STDs that are caused by different strains of pathogens. The STDs we see most frequently include: 

An infection with HPV raises a woman’s risk for cervical cancer. We test for the early changes of cervical cancer with a Pap smear during your well-woman exam.

How often should you test for STDs?

How frequently you should test for sexually transmitted diseases depends on your individual case. Your lifestyle and how many risk factors you have may increase your chances of getting an STD. Factors that influence your STD risk include whether you’re sexually active, your age, and your medical and sexual health history. 

Many STDs can be cured in their early stages. Even those that can’t be cured – such as HPV and herpes – can be controlled with medications and lifestyle adjustments. The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) recommends the following STD testing schedule:

Gonorrhea and chlamydia 

Women who are under 25 who are sexually active and women over 25 with new or multiple partners or who have partner(s) with a known STD should be tested for gonorrhea and chlamydia every year. If you are pregnant and at risk, you should be tested early in your pregnancy.

Gay or bisexual men who are sexually active should be tested at least once every year. If they have multiple partners, they should test every three to six months.

Human immunodeficiency virus (HIV)/AIDS

All teens and adults aged 13-64 who have had sex should be tested at least once in their lives for HIV/AIDS. Anyone who has sex without a condom or shares hypodermic needles should be tested at least every year. Sexually active gay and bisexual men should be tested for HIV every three to six months. You should also be tested right away if you are pregnant.


As soon as you know that you’re pregnant, get tested for syphilis. And if you’re a sexually active man who has sex with other men, you should be tested at least once a year.

Hepatitis B and hepatitis C

You should be tested for hepatitis B and C if you’re pregnant to ensure your baby’s safety. Many STDs can be passed to your baby, especially during vaginal delivery. If you’re a gay or bisexual man with HIV, you should be tested for hepatitis C yearly.

Make regular STD screening part of your health care regimen by contacting our team at Gulf West Medical Associates at 727-848-0247 or through our online form today. Please also reach out if you notice any unusual or troubling symptoms, if you’ve had unsafe sex, or if you think you’re at risk for an STD.

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