by: Noel Vanegas: Patient Care Navigator
When to Test for STD's
While most people test after an exposure or begin experiencing symptoms, it is important to test in the correct timeframe as STDs cannot be detected the day after an exposure.
STDs can be diagnosed at different times, some sooner than others. The time it takes from exposure to detection by a test is called a window period. The window period for HIV and syphilis is 3 months and gonorrhea and chlamydia is 2 weeks. This means that at 3 months from the point of an exposure, you will get the most accurate results because you have given yourself enough time to appropriately test. You can still test within those 3 months, but it must be kept in mind that retesting is necessary at the 3-month mark after being exposed.
What to do if you have Symptoms
If you are experiencing symptoms, it is recommended to get tested as soon as possible. Symptoms include pain with urination, rashes/lesions on the body, or rapid decrease in weight. At East Valley Community Health Center, patients are given an STD panel at our West Covina and Pomona Health Centers. Our program offers a 1-minute rapid result HIV test. The standard STD panel tests for gonorrhea, chlamydia, syphilis, and HIV. Results are typically received by patients after 1 week. During this time, abstain from engaging in sexual activity until it is confirmed that you are negative.
What to do if you get a Positive Result
Your well-being, safety and health are the mission of East Valley's counselors and providers. Coping with a positive result can be difficult, but it is important to get the treatment needed. Questions are encouraged, and a counselor will be with you through every concern you have.
Gonorrhea and chlamydia are treated with a one-time antibiotics. Syphilis is treated with a series of antibiotics until the infection is out of the body. HIV has a more complex care routine with regular medication and monitoring to ensure you are safe and healthy. East Valley's HIV Care Department will assist you with all HIV care including medication, counseling, and linkages to community resources. If you had partners while you had an STD or HIV, it is important to notify them so they can get tested and prevent transmission to another person. There are county services to notify partners get tested without them knowing who it is coming from.
Latex barriers are highly effective. They come in the form of condoms for penetrative sex and dental dams for oral sex. Another form of prevention is PrEP (Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis), which a pill taken daily to greatly reduce the risk of contracting HIV. Our HIV Care team can help you get on PrEP.