If you have concerns about sexually transmitted diseases (STDs), the Health and Wellness Center can help you in a professional and non-judgmental manner. Many students seek out routine STD screenings even if they don't have any symptoms --- just to be sure they don't have an STD.
Note: This information is intended to inform and educate and is not a replacement for medical evaluation, advice, diagnosis, or treatment by a health care professional.
- What do I do if I have been exposed to a sexually transmitted disease (STD)?
- Do I need STD testing?
- What types of STD testing are available at the Health and Wellness Center?
- What screening tests are recommended for men who have sex with men?
- Where can I get tested?
- Where can I find more information?
If you have been exposed to an STD, schedule a men's or women's health appointment. Some STD exposures should be treated even if there are no symptoms and the test results are pending.
A clinician can discuss possible symptoms and the range of testing options. We generally recommend that you be tested for STDs if:
- You or your partner may have had multiple partners
- You are male and have sex with a man
- You have sexual partners who are/have been IV drug users
- You have ever had unprotected intercourse (including oral sex)
You may request tests for several different types of STDs. The most common tests are listed below.
- Chlamydia and gonorrhea are infections that cause similar symptoms and are usually tested together. If a man has symptoms, it is typically a discharge from the penis and burning with urination, although more than half of men have no symptoms. The testing is done on a urine specimen, and results are available in 7 days. Both infections are treatable with antibiotics.
- Genital Herpes (caused by a virus) infects approximately 1 in 4 people who are sexually active. The vast majority have minor or no symptoms. When someone has herpes, they can pass the infection on to others even when they do not have symptoms. It is possible to test for herpes by culturing the blister when someone has symptoms. A blood test can be done to check for herpes during times when a person has no symptoms, but the test may be inconclusive.
- Genital warts (i.e., Human Papilloma Virus or HPV) and molluscum contagiosum are probably the most common STDs. HPV can cause two different types of symptoms, genital warts and changes in the woman's cervix which can lead to cancer. Studies suggest that as many as 60% of sexually active college-age people carry HPV. Molluscum causes a skin bump slightly different from HPV. HPV and molluscum are treatable but often resolve spontaneously over time. A diagnosis of HPV is made by examining the genitalia with the naked eye. There are no blood or urine tests for HPV or molluscum when skin lesions are not visible.
- Hepatitis A is an inflammation of the liver caused by a virus. You can acquire hepatitis A if you eat food or drink water that has been contaminated by stools containing this virus. Other ways to contract hepatitis A include coming in contact with the stools or blood of an infected person, participating in sexual practices that involve oral-anal contact, or if a person with hepatitis A does not properly wash their hands after going to the bathroom and then touches other objects or food. The hepatitis A vaccine is recommended for men who have sex with men.
- Hepatitis B vaccine is recommended for all sexually active adults. This infection causes liver cell damage, which can lead to scarring of the liver (cirrhosis) and an increased risk of liver cancer. The virus can survive outside the body for at least ten days on a dry surface and is 100 times more contagious than the AIDS virus. It may be transmitted through contact with infected body fluids, including blood, saliva, seminal fluid, and vaginal secretions.
- Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV) causes AIDS. Nine out of ten of those infected with HIV are men. HIV is treatable, but at this time, it is not curable. Testing can be done on blood or an oral sample.
- Trichomoniasis is a vaginal infection in women and a urethral infection in men caused by a microscopic organism. It is usually transmitted through sexual intercourse. However, it often produces no symptoms, so it is not unusual for someone to unknowingly be infected with this organism for months or even years. Trichomoniasis can increase the risk of getting or spreading other sexually transmitted infections.
- Syphilis is caused by a bacterium and is uncommon. Upon initial infection, syphilis causes a painless ulcer on the penis. However, if it's not treated with antibiotics, it can cause serious problems, including infection of the brain and spinal cord, which can result in paralysis and confusion.
If you are a male and have sex with men, you should be tested for the following:
- Chlamydia and Gonorrhea
- Hepatitis A & B
You can schedule an appointment with the Health and Wellness Center.
Or, you can schedule an appointment with the Erie County Department of Health (814-451-6700 or 800-352-0026, ext. 6700). They are located at 606 W. 2nd Street, Erie, PA.
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