Reminder: STD Testing Is Still Important During a Pandemic

The pandemic has disrupted many aspects of our lives, including testing for sexually transmitted diseases. Due to clinic closings and supply disruptions, many tests have been delayed as the number of tests has plummeted over the past few months . So consider this as your reminder that if you are at risk of contracting an STD, you should definitely get tested, even if it is more inconvenient than usual.

The CDC guidelines for STI testing are here . Recommendations differ depending on who you are and whether you have sex with multiple partners each year. Many of us must be tested at least once a year for gonorrhea, chlamydia and, in some cases, HIV and syphilis.

Unfortunately, there are currently not enough test kits for chlamydia and gonorrhea. The Department of Health and Human Services recently sent out a letter to service providers recommending that people at highest risk, including pregnant women and men who have sex with men, get tested as a priority. They also noted that if someone has a confirmed case of chlamydia or gonorrhea, it may make sense to start treatment for their partner (s) without waiting for test results.

For fun, there is also a shortage of azithromycin , one of the antibiotics commonly used to treat chlamydia and gonorrhea. Every time you see a Youtube charlatan telling his followers to take “hydroxychloroquine, azithromycin, and zinc” to prevent COVID ( which doesn’t work , by the way ), it affects the availability of essential drugs for people with STIs.

The shortage does not necessarily affect tests for other STIs, even if some clinics do not return to full-time operations, which complicates the situation. If you have symptoms or are at high risk, contact your provider or local sexual health clinic and ask what they can do. They often have options for you. For example, some clinics are closed for examinations and other routine care, but will still do screenings.

There are also HIV home tests and mail-order tests for other STIs, such as those available at Let’s Get Checked . The companies that sell these tests often do not accept insurance, but do not accept FSA and HSA cards. If you postponed an STI test this spring when cases closed due to the pandemic, take the time to test your options and be sure to take the test if you need one.

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