Follow the bouncing ball and sing along!
VD is for everybody,
Not just for the few.
Anyone can share VD,
With someone nice as you.
VD is for everybody,
Darling have no doubts!
That anyone can get VD,
That’s what…its’ all…ABOUT!!
In the late 60s, ASHA launched a PSA V.D. is for Everybody. Complete with its own catchy tune (how ‘bout them lyrics?), the spot shows a cross-section of society to drive home the point that sexually transmitted infections (STIs, or venereal diseases as they known in the day) can affect anyone.
We should probably update that to say STIs affect almost everyone…
Each year in the U.S. there are 20 million new STIs. Add each year’s new cases to those that already exist and you’re looking at about 110 million current STIs in the country.
Also, consider that experts believe more than half of all sexually active individuals have at least one infection in their lifetime with the human papillomavirus (HPV). None of this is to be alarmist or scary—the vast majority of those HPV infections are harmless and go away on their own. This is just to highlight that STIs are very common and having one means very little apart from that one is very normal.
So talk to your healthcare provider about getting tested! We don’t test nearly enough for STIs: healthcare providers and patients alike often think STIs happen to other people. Despite the fact that these infections are common and we get them from doing stuff nature pretty much intended we do, there is still so much shame and stigma we often don’t take advantage of the health care we need and deserve.
Which STIs should you consider testing for?
There’s no one size fits all approach to STI testing, so this is why it’s so important to have a conversation with your doctor or nurse to see which tests you might need; it varies based on things such as your age, gender, and risk factors. Here’s some general guidance to jumpstart your thinking:
- CDC recommends everyone ages 13-64 have at least one HIV test.
- Sexually active women under age 26 should have a chlamydia test each year.
- At age 21, women should begin cervical cancer screening with Pap tests. Most cervical cancers are caused by certain types of HPV that, in a few cases, don’t clear on their own. The good news is that cervical cancer can be prevented!
- Routine testing for common STIs is recommended for men who have sex with men. This includes annual tests for HIV, and syphilis. Also chlamydia and gonorrhea tests to check for infections of the urethra and anus (for those who’ve had insertive and/or receptive anal sex), and a test of the throat for those who’ve performed oral sex in the last year (chlamydia rarely is transmitted by oral sex so there’s no testing recommendation there).
For a drill-down on STI tests, including how they’re done and more insights into which tests you might think about having, visit our Get Tested page. Remember your medical and sexual history go a long way towards determining which STI tests you need (and just how often you should be tested), so learn more about talking with your healthcare provider and get the conversation started.