How COVID-19 Affected STI Testing
The COVID-19 pandemic is a significant public health crisis today, but it is on the tips of everyone’s thumbs and tongues.
However, the CDC declared a growing epidemic in a congruent health crisis. One of those include sexually transmitted infections (STIs) and diseases (STDs). One of the significant drawbacks of the COVID-19 pandemic is that it has greatly affected access to in-person STI prevention, treatment, and testing.
In this blog, we will discuss the intersection of the two kinds of viruses more.
Affect of COVID-19 on STI Testing Availability
During the COVID-19 pandemic, hospitals have been the hotspot and encouraged to optimize resources. Unfortunately, it is the primary reason sexual health services have been reduced. The NYC Department of Health and Mental Hygiene closed seven sexual health clinics out of eight. However, they kept one open only for limited yet emergency services.
Many of the urban community centers, the primary providers of sexual and healthcare services, announced the limitation in their in-person visits.
Meaning of STI rates
Naturally, a drop in overall testing will drop in the positive tests. Public health experts have been concerned that there are many people with undiagnosed STIs at the moment. So there’s no doubt that now is the great time you must get tested.
Importance of regular testing
The only way to know about your STI status is to get the test done. Unfortunately, despite the common belief, it is tough to understand STIs. Even though it is asymptomatic, the common symptoms are bumpy, awkward, or painful.
Symptomatic or not, STIs left untreated may lead to a range of complications. These include:
- Increased risk of miscarriage
- Cervical cancer
- Pelvic inflammatory disease
The only way for an STI is to treat it properly.
When you must get the test
A general recommendation is that everyone sexually active needs to get the test once a year unless they’ve been in a monogamous relationship for a long time and are certain of their partner’s status.
However, few people need to be tested far more often. It includes people who:
- Experience unusual symptoms
- Suspect their exposure to an STI
- Not sure about the partner’s status
- Frequently change partners
Is it possible to get STI tested during the pandemic?
Well, for the good news, we say YES! With the availability of vaccinations and the decline in the new COVID-19 cases, many STI testing sites have slowly returned to their regular capacity and schedule. These STI testing sites include the following:
- Urgent care clinics
- LGBT+ centers
- University and college health centers
- Non-profit health organizations
- Planned Parenthood locations
- Local health departments
Also, we have one more good news; you can test STDs at home with the STD test kits.
Mitigating the risks during the in-person STI testing
Many clinics come with protocols to protect both the people getting tested and the ones who give the tests. For example, many clinics will have you call them when you arrive, ask you to wait outside, and ring you when it is your turn.
Most clinics will also check your temperature at the door and ask you about the recent COVID-19 symptoms or exposures before they allow you inside the building.
Alternate option: At-home STI testing
At-home STI tests make STI testing private, convenient, and accessible. It allows you to do so without making an appointment, going to the lab, or talking about it face-to-face with a medical provider.
Here’s how it works:
- Order an at-home STI testing kit. It includes everything you need to collect your samples.
- Open the box and follow the instructions to a T to collect the samples.
- Make the samples off to a lab and wait for the results. You can receive it via the patient portal or email in a few days.
Due to the combination of closed STI testing places, in-person appointments, and fears to contract COVID-19, the sex practices of many pleasure seekers fluctuated during the COVID-19.
If you contract STD, you can get medications through the nearest pharmacies.
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