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When should you get tested for STDs and STIs?

Tomorrow, December 1st, is World Day for the fight against AIDS (HIV) and the truth is that when I read it this morning in the newspaper, I thought about many things... Starting with the fact that I have never had a STD test or STI! What if I have a disease and I had not realized it until now...? Let's investigate about this topic.

Differences between STDs and STIs:

I have always thought that STDs and STIs were the same… Until now!

Although both are contracted through sexual intercourse , STIs are produced in your body when you contract a fungus , virus , or bacteria (among other things). Instead, STDs occur when these pathogens lead to disease . Therefore, we can have a sexually transmitted infection without having an STD, but not vice versa.

The most common STIs are syphilis , gonorrhea , Human Papillomavirus (HPV) , chlamydia , hepatitis B and C , human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) and some types of fungi . But, if they are not treated, these sexually transmitted infections can evolve into diseases such as AIDS , for example (from HIV).

In men , for example, the most common symptoms when suffering from an STD or STI are purulent discharge from the penis, a stinging sensation when urinating, irritation of the glans penis, itching in the area or wounds , and lesions on the foreskin .

How often should I undergo STD and STI tests?

STDs and STIs are contracted by practicing risky or unprotected sexual relations ; that is, without any barrier such as condoms (both male and female) or mouth dams. Therefore, if you have had a sexual relationship of this type, you should consider going to your family doctor and ask for the relevant tests.

However, the Spanish Association of Gynecology and Obstetrics (AEGO) recommends that these tests be carried out every year if you have regular relationships (even with a stable partner, due to possible infidelities).

It is important that you do not wait until symptoms appear to see a doctor, since many of these STIs and STDs are asymptomatic (HIV, Chlamydia and Hepatitis B, for example). Not having symptoms does not mean that you are not suffering from a sexually transmitted disease or infection and that you may be passing it on to other people.

Statistics of STDs and STIs in Spain

But even if the theory is learned, it must be put into practice. According to the WHO, at least one person in 25 in the world suffers from at least one sexually transmitted disease . The data does not deceive and is increasingly worrying.

In Spain , for example, the contagion rates are much higher compared to the rates in the European Union. According to some studies carried out in the last decade, in our country women tend to be the most cautious regarding this issue. And it is for this reason, to be more careful, that it is precisely women who suffer less from STDs and STIs compared to men.

However, the national contagion data does not show the same. According to the percentages of people diagnosed, it is women who suffer more STDs and STIs . But what sense does this fact have? Well, very simple! Women are not only more cautious about STDs and STIs, but they also get far more tests and tests to detect them than men, so they are diagnosed more often than men (although they may also be suffering from it).

In this way, diseases that seemed almost eradicated in Spain , such as gonorrhea (5,170 cases registered in 2017) or syphilis (4,000 cases registered in 2017), have returned to their old ways in our country too regularly, especially among young men. In addition, it is worth noting the fact that Madrid and Catalonia are the autonomous communities where the most infections have been detected in recent years.

Since 2010 there has been a large increase in STDs and STIs in Spain , becoming a major public health problem , since it is often detected late or is neither detected nor treated. However, there are many more STDs and STIs that in Spain have become too common. HIV , for example, is also one of the most infected STIs in our country (it is estimated that in Spain there are between 130,000 and 160,000 infected people, of whom approximately 20% are unaware that they are carriers of the virus).

So, you know… It's okay to live to the fullest, but not crazy! Pay attention to the specialists and frequently take the pertinent tests to detect possible STDs and STIs . And if you don't do it just for yourself... Do it for others!

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