Is STD Testing Considered Preventative Care?

Preventive care means care that aims to prevent the emergence of a disease (Primary prevention, i.e., vaccination) or identifying a disease as early as possible to initiate prompt treatment to reduce its mortality or severity (Secondary prevention, i.e., cancer screening). Preventive care includes but is not limited to annual checkup visits to the doctor, immunization, colonoscopies, mammograms, screening for high blood pressure and high cholesterol. AFC Urgent Care Danbury provides STD testing for all patients. It is confidential and discreet, making getting tested extremely convenient. 

The Affordable Care Act (ACA) categorized asymptomatic STD screenings under preventive care. Such asymptomatic STD screening includes sexually transmitted diseases producing or showing no symptoms; examples include Chlamydia, Gonorrhea, Syphilis, and HIV. However, when such an infection starts showing symptoms, it is no longer considered preventive care.

What is Preventative Care?

Preventive care aims at preventing the outbreak of health problems. It also emphasizes making a diagnosis before symptoms or complications arise when the chances of recovery are greatest. When properly applied, prevention improves overall health and lowers the cost of health care.

The overall goal of prevention is to decrease a person’s risk of developing a disease or becoming disabled, or dying prematurely. Preventive care does not exist in a universal form- specific goals are set by and for each person. Such goals are highly dependent on the individual risk profile, i.e., a person’s risk of developing a disease based on age, sex, genetic characteristics, family history, lifestyle, and physical and social environment. 

Preventive care includes services such as periodical checkups, screening, and immunizations done when one is symptom-free.

Preventive care is distinguished from diagnostic tests and treatment, which is implemented either when a disease breaks out, with the appearance of symptoms, or as a result of unraveling the possibility of a condition after initial testing. It includes tests or procedures ordered by a doctor who will then help assess or diagnose your condition or disease. 

Why You Should Get Tested for STDs

Although not all sexually transmitted diseases are curable once in the body system, early detection and treatment are crucial to keeping the disease in check and preventing the bacteria from spreading and damaging other organs. 

Below are important times when it’s a great idea to get yourself tested for an STD.

  • Before starting sexual activity with a new partner
  • If you notice any bumps, discharge, rash on the skin, or any other changes in your body
  • If you or your partners have sexual encounters with other people
  • If you have had unprotected sex with someone who doesn’t know whether or not they have an STI (because they have not been tested for a long time)

Finally, it should be noted that the accuracy of the test result will depend on the window period required by each infection before it can be detected.

  • HIV can take up to three months of waiting to produce a final result, although 95% of screenings will give an exact result after six weeks. It can take up to three months for your virus count (the viral load) to be high enough in your blood to be detected in a blood test.
  • Chlamydia can be detected after a few days, but the result will be more accurate after two weeks.
  • A gonorrhea test will present a more accurate result after seven days. You can get tested earlier, but then there is a possibility of a false-negative result if the infection has not developed enough to be detectable.
  • Hepatitis has a window period of two to four weeks.
  • Syphilis has a window period of three to four weeks. 
  • Herpes screening result is most accurate from three months after infection, or between two to 12 days if a lesion is present.