Sexually transmitted infections (STIs) may sound scary, but they are common infections that are carried from one person to the other through intimate sexual contact. Some STIs don’t have symptoms, so if you are at risk, it’s important to get screened. The providers at Trade Winds Family Medicine, located in Kailua, can help.
STI Testing Question & Answer
STIs is the term used for a group of common infections known as sexually transmitted infections. According to the CDC, about 20 million new cases of STIs are diagnosed each year in the United States alone.
Some of the STIs are chlamydia, herpes, HIV, gonorrhea, trichomoniasis, syphilis, and HPV. STIs are primarily spread through heavy petting and sexual contact with the vagina, mouth, and anus. The only absolute method to prevent STIs is abstaining from sex. Not all STIs will show symptoms.
The most common behavioral factor that may put you at risk for STIs is having unprotected sex with a new partner or multiple partners.
ANTIVIRAL MEDICATIONSAntivirals can lessen the occurrence of herpes outbreaks; however, you can still spread the infection to your sexual partner. A daily antiviral can reduce the risk of transmission.
ANTIBIOTICSAntibiotics are effective in curing many STIs, such as chlamydia, gonorrhea, and trichomoniasis. The key to successful treatment with antibiotics is to take the medicine as directed by your provider. While taking your medication you should also abstain from sex until you’ve completed your treatment
The topic of STIs may be embarrassing and scary regardless of your age. However, knowing the risks and whether you are infected is important for your health and your partner’s health.
Generally, STI screenings are not automatically added to other gynecologic screenings like a Pap smear. If you are sexually active and could be at risk, knowing whether you have an STI is important. Early detection and treatment is key. Ask your provider if you should be screened, and we will help navigate your decision with you.
The providers at Trade Winds Family Medicine, located in Kailua, can order and perform testing for STIs. If you have concerns or want to learn more, make an appointment. Call (808) 263-7383.
HPV is the name for a group of over 150 associated viruses. HPVs are drawn to cells in moist areas of the body and on the surface of the skin, such as the:
- Inner foreskin of the penis
- Lining of the mouth, nose and throat
HPVs are grouped into two basic categories.
Low-risk HPVs cause genital warts in both men and women. These warts usually appear around the anus or the genitals for both genders, but can also develop in the cervix and vagina in women. These warts can be treated, but tend not to cause cancer
High-risk HPVs can develop into cancer over time. The providers at Trade Winds Family Medicine may recommend HPV screening for females, along with your pap smear, in order to detect these strains of HPV.
Yes. Although an HPV screening and a Pap smear are both early detection protocols they are distinctly different tests, yet commonly collected at the same time:
A Pap test is when the provider uses a swab to collect a sample of cells on the cervix. This sample is sent to the laboratory where the lab technician assesses the cells. An abnormal reading indicates that changes in the cells have been detected. It’s important to note that not all detected changes will lead to cancer, however, carefully monitoring the changes with your doctor is crucial to preventing cancer.
An HPV test just looks for the presence of the virus, not changes in the cells. During this screening, a sample is collected much like during a Pap smear. Often, your provider will do both a Pap smear and an HPV screening at the same time. This is referred to as co-testing. Co-testing is usually done for women aged 30 and older. It provides a great way to detect pre-cancers or early cervical cancer.
Screening recommendations for women ages 21-29 include a reflex test which means that a pap smear is done, and if the pap smear is abnormal, then an HPV test is automatically run on that same sample. If you choose to get your pap smear with us, we will follow the most recent standards to ensure that you get the right test done for you.
The current national recommendation for HPV screening for cervical cancer is every five years for women 30 to 65 years. HPV screening for women ages 21-29 is recommended if their pap smear is abnormal. HPV screening is not recommended for women younger than 21 years.
The next step is often to have a colposcopy test. This is a test where your doctor looks more closely at the surface of your cervix with a magnifying scope. She may see areas of abnormality which she can biopsy. This biopsy helps to define the next step, either monitoring, or treatment. If you need a colposcopy, Trade Winds Family Medicine can provide this test for you.
To learn more about cervical cancer screening and HPV, contact Trade Winds Family Medicine in Kailua.