April is STD awareness month, and Planned Parenthood of the Rocky Mountains (PPRM) will leave us no excuse but to get tested–see below for Get Yourself Tested (GYT) campaign details.
In the meantime, 303 Magazine‘s April Sex Issue and PPRM begs for a collaboration, so we caught up with Monica McCafferty, spokeswoman for PPRM, and asked her burning (pun intended) questions we had about STDs.
303: Can you contract the same STDs from oral, anal and vaginal sex?
MM: Yes. The most common STDs that can be transmitted these ways are chlamydia, gonorrhea and HPV.
303: HPV has an air of mystery about it. What should we all know about HPV, even at the most basic level?
MM: An estimated 6.2 million new cases occur each year–at least 2o million people already have it–making it the most common STD. Vaccines are a major breakthrough in the fight against HPV, as they can help prevent infection before someone is at risk. Now, there are two FDA-approved vaccines that protect against the types of HPB most commonly associated with cervical cancer in women. There is one FDA-approved vaccine for men, Gardasil. All PPRM health centers offer the Gardasil vaccine. Talk with your health care provider to determine if the vaccine is a good option for you and your partner or your child. Getting routine cervical cancer screenings is another way women can protect themselves or their daughter(s).
303: If you don’t have insurance, is testing still affordable at PP?
MM: Yes, and campaigns like GYT, where we offer $10 testing, allow us to make our services more affordable and accessible. It is always our top priority to ensure that anyone who sees us gets the care they need; we do our best to deliver on this promise by offering affordable services, patient payment plans and referrals. We accept insurance, including Medicaid, and certain health centers offer services based on a sliding-scale fee.
303: How long do you need to wait after sex to get an accurate HIV and STD test reading?
MM: The timeframe for testing for STDs varies based on each STD. Discuss accurate testing windows with your health care provider if you think you’re at risk. For example, chlamydia and gonorrhea readings can be done immediately, but we may suggest re-testing depending on the timing of the exposure and risk factors. HIV can typically be detected within two to eight weeks, but it can take longer, so we encourage people not to wait to get tested, but rather, repeat testing after possible exposure.
Get Yourself Tested (GYT) ! Planned Parenthood offers super-affordable STD testing twice this month, April 23rd and April 27th. For $10, test for chlamydia and gonorrhea (urine test) and $10 for HIV (finger prick). Visit Planned Parenthood of the Rocky Mountains‘ website for locations and hours. Appointments are encouraged.