Sexually transmitted diseases are common throughout the world, and while some STDs have symptoms, others don’t. The lack of symptoms is a big part of the reason reports of STDs have increased: People without signs engage in sexual relations and unknowingly pass on the disease. Routine STD testing is recommended for some people, and there are many free and low-cost centers that provide the tests.
Free and Low-Cost Testing
Visit your local Planned Parenthood clinic or local gay and lesbian community centers. These offices will likely have STD outreach programs that provide free tests. Free clinics can provide STD testing as well.
To find a health office or clinic, search your local blue pages under “Department of Health” or the yellow pages under “Family planning” or “Clinics.” Most testing will be free or low cost.
You can call 1-800-230-7526 (PLAN) to reach the Planned Parenthood health center closest to you. Not all family planning clinics will offer services to males.
You can call (800) 227-8922 to talk with the Sexually Transmitted Infection Resource Hotline. This resource will provide you with information on testing for males and females.
For women, the testing process consists of a pap test, a procedure that collects cells from the cervix to test for cancer or precancerous changes. Cervical cancer can be a result of the human papillomavirus (a common STD). This test is for women who are 21 and older or who have lost their virginity in the last three years. Routine tests for chlamydia are recommended for women younger than 25.
For men, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidelines do not suggest routine STD testing if you show no symptoms, unless you have had sex with another man. If you have, annual testing for HIV, chlamydia, syphilis and gonorrhea is highly recommended.
For both men and women, the CDC recommends HIV testing at least once as a routine part of medical care if you are between the ages of 13 and 64. It is also recommended that you get tested yearly if you have had unprotected sex with more than one partner since your last test.