Even if your genitals test negative for an STI, you may still test positive somewhere else.
While most people think of STI testing in relation to their genitals only, it’s important to get tested at all sites on your body where you’ve had sexual contact—including the throat and rectum—for chlamydia and gonorrhea. A general urine screening isn’t enough to confirm that you have a negative STI status.
You can also have what’s called a “co-infection,” which is when you experience two or more STIs at the same time.
ABOUT COMMON STI's
HIV stands for “Human Immunodeficiency Virus.” If untreated, it can lead to Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome (AIDS). Once you get HIV, you have it for life. When HIV-positive people are treated with antiretroviral therapy (ART) as prescribed, the amount of HIV in their blood can become undetectable and allow them to live long, healthy lives, with effectively no risk of transmitting HIV to an HIV-negative partner through sex. Ask when you go in for your next STI test if getting an HIV test is right for you.
Chlamydia is a common STI that can infect both men and women. In women, it can cause serious, permanent damage to the reproductive system, making it difficult or impossible to get pregnant later on. If you’re pregnant, you can give chlamydia to your baby during childbirth. Chlamydia can be cured with antibiotics, taken correctly and as prescribed.
You can get infected with genital herpes if you come into contact with the herpes virus via a herpes sore; saliva (if your partner has an oral herpes infection) or genital secretions (if your partner has a genital herpes infection); skin in the oral area, if your partner has an oral herpes infection; or skin in the genital area, if your partner has a genital herpes infection. There is no cure for genital herpes, but you can take antiviral medications to prevent or shorten outbreaks.
Especially common in young people (ages 15-24), gonorrhea can cause infection in the genitals, rectum, and throat. In both men and women, it’s common not to have symptoms, though some men may notice a burning sensation while urinating, and some women can commonly mistake gonorrhea symptoms for a bladder or vaginal infection. Gonorrhea can be cured with the right treatment, taken correctly and as prescribed.
Hepatitis B is spread when blood, semen, or other body fluids from a person infected with the virus enter the body of someone who is not. This can happen through sex, sharing drug-injection equipment, or from mother to baby at birth. For many people, hepatitis B is a short-term illness; however, for some people, it can lead to cirrhosis or liver cancer. The best way to prevent hepatitis B is to get vaccinated; ask when you go in for your next STI test if the vaccination is right for you.
Hepatitis C is a liver infection spread through contact with blood from an infected person, usually by sharing needles or other equipment used to prepare and inject drugs. In more than half of people who become infected, hepatitis C can lead to cirrhosis and liver cancer. Currently, the CDC recommends one-time hepatitis C testing of all adults (18 years and older) and all pregnant women during every pregnancy. There is no vaccine for hepatitis C, but treatments can cure most people with hepatitis C in 8 to 12 weeks. When you go in for your next STI test, your nurse or doctor will help determine if a hepatitis C test is necessary.
HPV infections are so common that nearly all men and women will get at least one type of HPV at some point in their lives. You can get HPV by having vaginal, anal, or oral sex with someone who has the virus. Nine out of 10 HPV infections will go away by themselves within two years; however, some infections will last longer and can cause cancers of the cervix, vagina, and vulva in women; penis in men; and anus and back of the throat, including the base of the tongue and tonsils, in both women and men.
You can get syphilis through direct contact with a syphilis sore during vaginal, anal, or oral sex. Sores can commonly occur in, on, or around the penis, vagina, anus, rectum, lips, or mouth. Pregnant people with syphilis can also pass syphilis to their unborn child. Your doctor will need to draw your blood to test for syphilis, but with the right antibiotics, syphilis is curable.