In 2008, the American Sexual Health Association released a report stating that an estimated 110 million Americans have an STD/STI. Of this population, 20% were young men and women ages 15-24. For most STDs, there are no known symptoms, resulting in infertility and infections that cause long-term harm.
The ‘Get Yourself Tested’ campaign (GYT) began to combat this epidemic of young people.
MTV, Planned Parenthood, and the Kaiser Family Foundation joined together to encourage young people to get tested and participate in open conversations about sexuality. GYT promotes a shame-free culture of seeking advice and taking pride in seeking treatment. We can dismantle the stigma surrounding STDs by continuing to talk about them and creating a space for inclusive, effective sexual health education.
By advocating for a more honest discussion about sexuality and sex ed, we can begin to break down the stigmas surrounding people with STDs and lower the amount of people living with them. On this GYT Day, here are five things you need to know about getting tested, for yourself and your partners:
- The tests are super simple and don’t require much from you, a mere human. Of course, the types of tests vary depending on your age, sexual history, and what you’re testing for. Urine tests, physicals, blood tests, and tissue samples are the range of tests you’re working with. For something like a tissue sample, you literally just sit there and someone swabs your mouth. Really, the whole process is easy -peasy. If there’s not a long line, it should typically take you around 20 minutes. Twenty minutes out of your day to see if you have a multitude of sexually transmitted diseases. Sounds great! Because it is.
- Often, STDs show no symptoms. This is the importance of getting tested. You can have an STD without showing any physical symptoms. The only definite way of knowing you have an STD is through testing. Some symptoms of STDs that other people have experienced can range from burning while urinating to abdominal pain. Some attribute the symptoms to be something else and don’t consider the fact that it’s possibly a STD.
- Most STDs are curable. All of them are treatable. By finding out that you have an STD early on, you can begin treatments that are best for you. Most STDs can be treated with antibiotics and rest. Click here to see a more in-depth look at treatments for known STDs.
- Testing begins a conversation between you and your partner about sexual health and safe sex. An aspect of consensual sex (which is the only sex) is being aware of your partner’s reproductive health. It is not consensual if your partner doesn’t disclose that they have an STD and then you get infected. Therefore, it’s always best to talk to your partner before engaging in sexual activities, and just bring this stuff up. It’s not awkward. Really.
- Going to get tested prompts you to go to a clinic and actually educate yourself about sex. Bleach doesn’t cure AIDS. The pull-out method really isn’t foul-proof. You can get pregnant if you’re on top (gravity doesn’t work like that). Getting tested means that you can ask someone those questions that you’re haven’t getting a definitive answer from Web MD. It’s a way to discuss your sex life with someone who is informed and trained. Then, you can pass this information to your friends and begin a constant flow of correct sexual health info that is beneficial to everyone.
Getting tested is the only way to know for sure if you have an STD. For more information about getting tested/finding a testing site, click here.