Sexually transmitted diseases are becoming increasingly common throughout the country, and thousands of people in Los Angeles County have been infected. Many of them don’t know it.
How do I know if I have an STD?
You can read about the symptoms of different STDs, including herpes and HIV, on the TeenSource website. Some of the most common ones — chlamydia and gonorrhea — often don’t have symptoms, but can still be extremely harmful. Untreated, both can cause pelvic inflammatory disease and even infertility in women.
When should I get tested?
Sexually active women should be tested for chlamydia and gonorrhea once a year at least until they’re 25. Older women should continue getting tested annually if they have risk factors, such as new or multiple sexual partners.
Women should visit a gynecologist to get Pap tests, which check for HPV -- an STD that can cause cancer -- every three years between the ages of 21 and 65.
All men who have sex with men should be tested for syphilis, and probably also chlamydia and gonorrhea, at least once a year.
All pregnant women should be screened for syphilis, HIV, chlamydia and hepatitis B.
Everyone should talk to their doctor about whether they need an HIV screening test.
Which diseases should I get tested for?
Where can I get tested?
There are also wellness centers at Los Angeles Unified School District schools that offer STD testing, treatment and family planning. They treat the students of those schools as well as community members.
Can I do it online?
Yes, for some STDs. L.A. County offers free chlamydia and gonorrhea home test kits for women under 25. To order a kit, call (800) 758-0880.
Planned Parenthood also offers an at-home chlamydia and gonorrhea kit for $120, which you can order by downloading their app.
Can I get free STD testing and treatment?
California also has the Family Pact program, available through many of the clinics already listed, that offers free STD prevention, testing and treatment services for uninsured people.
To qualify for Family Pact, you need to be uninsured and have a family income at or below 200% of the federal poverty level. For minors, that doesn’t include your parents’ income, so if you are a teenager or a student under 18 without a full-time job, chances are you qualify, said Michelle Horejs, associate director of youth education and community engagement at Planned Parenthood Los Angeles.
If you are on a parent’s or spouse’s insurance and do not want them to know that you’re receiving STD testing or treatment, you can ask for confidential services through Family Pact as long as you meet the income eligibility, said Christina Moreno, chief of the California Department of Health Care Services Office of Family Planning. However, your family’s income might be taken into account if you’re over 18.
What happens if I get an STD?
It depends on the disease. A number of STDs can be treated with antibiotics, but you can contract them again. Some STDs, like herpes and HIV, have no cure, but doctors can help you manage the symptoms.
How do I prevent STDs?
Where can I get condoms?
There are also hundreds of barber shops, bars, clinics and other businesses that stock free condoms, which they receive from the county. Since the program began in 2013, more than 5.6 million condoms have been distributed, said Harlan Rotblatt, who coordinates STD prevention projects for the county. They come in two sizes — normal and extra large.
Does birth control protect against STDs?
Will anyone find out about my STD testing and treatment?
Many clinics are open during business or school hours. Schools are required to excuse students older than 12 for “confidential minor consent health services,” which includes STD testing and treatment, without asking your parents for permission or notifying them.
If you’re using your family member’s or spouse’s insurance, you can submit a Confidential Communication Request to your healthcare provider, and they will send the details of your STD treatment and care directly to an address you provide.