Oftentimes, if you suspect you have one or more STDs, a full STD panel is the best course of action. When you are facing the reality of a potential exposure, getting tested for everything possible is the surest way to set your mind at ease. Your STD panel test should include the following diseases:
HIV (human immunodeficiency virus) is the virus that causes AIDS (acquired immunodeficiency syndrome). A positive STD test for HIV is a life-changing result. By killing or damaging cells of your body’s immune system, HIV progressively destroys your body’s ability to fight infections and certain cancers. People diagnosed with AIDS may get life-threatening diseases called opportunistic infections. Microbes such as viruses, bacteria, or fungi causes these infections that do not usually make healthy people sick. Those with HIV/AIDS are also at an increased risk of developing certain cancers, neurological disorders, and a variety of other conditions.
Genital herpes is an STD caused by the herpes simplex viruses type 1 (HSV-1) or type 2 (HSV-2). Most genital herpes is caused by HSV-2. Most individuals have no or only minimal signs or symptoms from HSV-1 or HSV-2 infections. This means it is necessary to regularly test for STDs. Regularly STD testing means early detection and reducing the risk of unnecessary transfer of the herpes virus. When signs do occur, they typically appear as one or more blisters on or around the genitals or rectum. The blisters break, leaving tender ulcers (sores) that may take two to four weeks to heal the first time they occur. Typically, another outbreak can appear weeks or months after the first, but it almost always is less severe and shorter than the first outbreak. Although the infection can stay in the body indefinitely, the number of outbreaks tends to decrease over a period of years. Getting herpes testing is important in preventing the spread of genital herpes.
Chlamydia is a common STD caused by the bacterium Chlamydia trachomatis. Among other other long-term effects, this infection can damage a woman’s reproductive organs. Even though symptoms of chlamydia are usually mild or absent, serious complications that cause irreversible damage, including infertility, can occur “silently” before a woman ever recognizes a problem. Chlamydia also can cause discharge from the penis of an infected man. Chlamydia is easily detected with a simple STD test for local residents.
Gonorrhea is an extremely common STD caused by Neisseria gonorrhoeae, a bacterium that can grow and multiply easily in the warm, moist areas of the reproductive tract, including the cervix (opening to the womb), uterus (womb), and fallopian tubes (egg canals) in women, and in the urethra (urine canal) in women and men. The bacterium can also grow in the mouth, throat, eyes, and anus. If you are concerned about having been exposed to gonorrhea, proper STD testing should occur to properly diagnose if you have contracted it.
Syphilis is an STD caused by the bacterium Treponema pallidum. It has often been called “the great imitator” because so many of the signs and symptoms of syphilis are indistinguishable from those of other diseases. Because the difficulty in diagnosing this STD, a broad panel of STD tests is usually the best course of action.
Hepatitis means inflammation of the liver. Toxins, certain drugs, some diseases, heavy alcohol use, and bacterial and viral infections can all cause hepatitis. Hepatitis is also the name of a family of viral infections that affect the liver; the most common types in the United States are hepatitis A, B, and C.
Commonly called “trich” (pronounced like “trick”), trichomoniasis is one of the most common STDs in the United States. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), 3.7 million people in this country alone have it. It is caused by the parasite Trichomonas vaginalis.