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Sexually transmitted infections screening & counseling

Sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) are infections that are passed from one person to another through sexual contact. The causes of STDs are bacteria, parasites, yeast, and viruses. There are more than 20 types of STDs, including

  • Chlamydia
  • Genital herpes
  • Gonorrhea
  • HPV
  • Syphilis
  • Trichomoniasis

Most STDs affect both men and women, but in many cases the health problems they cause can be more severe for women. If a pregnant woman has an STD, it can cause serious health problems for the baby.

Who is at risk

  • More than one sexual partner
  • A partner who has or has had more than one sexual partner
  • Sex with someone who has an STI
  • History of STIs
  • Use of intravenous drugs (injected into a vein) or partner use of intravenous drugs



  • Painful urination
  • Lower abdominal pain
  • Vaginal discharge in women
  • Discharge from the penis in men
  • Pain during sexual intercourse in women
  • Bleeding between periods in women
  • Testicular pain in men


  • Thick, cloudy or bloody discharge from the penis or vagina
  • Pain or burning sensation when urinating
  • Heavy menstrual bleeding or bleeding between periods
  • Painful, swollen testicles
  • Painful bowel movements
  • Anal itching


  • Fever
  • Headache
  • Sore throat
  • Swollen lymph glands
  • Rash
  • Fatigue 


  • Small, flesh-colored or gray swellings in your genital area
  • Several warts close together that take on a cauliflower shape
  • Itching or discomfort in your genital area
  • Bleeding with intercourse

Hepatitis A, B, C:

  • Fatigue
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Abdominal pain or discomfort, especially in the area of your liver on your right side beneath your lower ribs
  • Loss of appetite
  • Fever
  • Dark urine
  • Muscle or joint pain
  • Itching
  • Yellowing of your skin and the whites of your eyes (jaundice)


  • Rash marked by red or reddish-brown, penny-sized sores over any area of your body, including your palms and soles
  • Fever
  • Enlarged lymph nodes
  • Fatigue and a vague feeling of discomfort
  • Soreness and aching

What you can do

There are several things you can do to reduce your risk:

  • Abstinence
  • Vaccination
  • Reduce number of sex partners
  • Mutual monogamy
  • Use condoms

The Lowdown on How to Prevent STDs

STD Prevention Success Stories

Preventive service at no cost

Preventive Service

Eligible Populations

Chlamydia Testing

  • Screen sexually active women (including pregnant women) age 24 years and younger;
  • Screen sexually active older women (including pregnant women) who are at increased risk for chlamydia infection
  • Screen sexually active adolescents (11-21 years of age).

Syphilis Testing

  • Screen persons at increased risk for syphilis infection.
  • Screen all pregnant women for syphilis infection.
  • Screen sexually active adolescents (11-21 years of age) for STIs

Gonorrhea Testing

  • Screen sexually active women (including pregnant women) age 24 years and younger;
  • Screen sexually active older women (including pregnant women) who are at increased risk for gonorrhea infection
  • Screen sexually active adolescents (11-21 years of age) for STIs

Ocular Prophylaxis for Gonococcal Ophthalmia Neonatorum

  • Provide prophylactic ocular topical medication to all newborns for the prevention of gonococcal ophthalmia neonatorum.

Human Papillomavirus Testing

  • Screen average-risk women aged 21 to 65 years for cervical cancer.
    • For women aged 21 to 29 years, using cervical cytology (Pap test) every 3 years.
    • Women aged 30 to 65 years should be screened with cytology and human papillomavirus testing every 5 years or cytology alone every 3 years.
    • Screen women ages 21 to 65 for cervical cancer with cytology (Pap smear) every 3 years or, for women age 30 to 65 years who want to lengthen the screening interval, screening with a combination of cytology and human papillomavirus (HPV) testing every 5 years

Human Papillomavirus Vaccination

  • Initiate routine vaccination for males and females ages 11-12.
    Also vaccinate members of the following groups if they have not been vaccinated previously or have not completed the 3-dose series:
    • females 13-26 years of age,
    • males 13-21 year of age, and
    • MSM and immunocompromised persons through 26 years

Sexually Transmitted Infection (STI) and HIV Prevention Counseling

  • Provide intensive behavioral counseling to prevent sexually transmitted infections (STIs) to all sexually active adolescents and for adults at increased risk for STIs.
  • Provide annual counseling on sexually transmitted infections, including HIV, for all sexually active women.

Why the services are important

STI symptoms aren't always obvious. Sexually transmitted infections are frequently asymptomatic, which leads persons to unknowingly transmit STIs to others. If left untreated, STIs can cause reproductive health problems including infertility, perinatal health problems, cancer, and health problems for your baby.

Behavioral counseling interventions can reduce a person's likelihood of acquiring an STI in the first place.

What the services are

Screenings may be questionnaires that your primary care doctor asks you to complete to determine your personal risk for STIs. It may be blood tests. Intensive behavioral counseling may be delivered in your primary care doctor’s office or he or she may refer to another network provider.


Some STIs are easy to treat and cure; others require more-complicated treatment to manage them.

STIs caused by bacteria are treated with antibiotics. Those caused by viruses cannot be cured, but symptoms can be treated.

Just Diagnosed?

Additional tips

If you test positive for any STI, it is essential to inform your partner or partners so that they can be evaluated and treated.

STD Testing: Conversation Starters

You may need to be tested for STIs, even if they aren’t included in the preventive services at no cost.

Which STD Tests Should I Get?