I’m worried I was exposed to an STD!

I’m worried I was exposed to an STD!

How long after having unprotected sex should I wait before having STD testing done (chlamydia/gonorrhea, HIV, herpes)?

This is an excellent question because it is very important to be tested and if positive be treated or further evaluated as soon as possible. The answer is different for the different types of STD’s that you are concerned about.

People exposed to chlamydia and gonorrhea usually will shows signs and symptoms of having the infection in 1-3 weeks but the symptoms could be very mild or not be present at all and the person may still be infected and may be passing the STD to other sexual partners.

Testing can be done by a urine sample or swab of the vagina or penis in the case of chlamydia or gonorrhea and will most likely be positive in 3-5 days from exposure. Please keep in mind that consistent and correct use of condoms will prevent transmission and the problems that may arise from becoming infected by these diseases. Routine screening on a yearly basis should be done by anyone under 25 years of age and anyone over 25 years of age if they have multiple or new sexual partners.

HIV testing is a bit different. A test done within 30 days of sexual exposure to someone with HIV will be positive about 30% of the time and may take up to 6 months before turning positive. So if you are tested immediately or within 30 days, request to be tested again at approximately 6 months from the time you are exposed. If the test is not positive after 6 months you are very unlikely to be infected. Again, condom use is important as they can prevent these concerns in the first place.

Herpes is usually diagnosed by looking at the blisters or sores that occur at the time of the outbreak. The fluid contained in the sores or blisters can be tested (this is called a culture). Occasionally a blood test can be done, but a blood test can sometimes be confusing as many people have and share the herpes virus but are not aware that they themselves carry the virus. Condoms are only protective if the lesion is on an area covered by the condom.

Joseph Shaeffer, ARNP/CNM