Why you should still get tested for all STDs on National HIV Testing Day

Sunday is National HIV Testing Day, a time to raise awareness about the importance of HIV testing, and one doctor said other sexually transmitted diseases shouldn’t be ignored.

The coronavirus pandemic brought about a significant decrease in HIV testing and a significant increase in STD cases, according to Dr. Michael Horberg, a leading researcher in the HIV field and director of Kaiser Permanente’s HIV/AIDS program.

“We’re now seeing high amounts of STDs — other STDs, and we know with that eventually you can also see HIV with that because STDs tend to go in packs,” said Dr. Horberg.

“Infectious disease physicians are seeing significant increases probably — even in my own practice … I would say about a 10% to 20% increase.”

Dr. Horberg is now encouraging people to not only get tested for HIV, but for other STDs: “If you’re going to be tested for HIV you should also be tested for the other STDs.”

He acknowledged that doctors have gotten better with treating HIV, but said there’s still risk for ongoing issues if contracted.

“There’s still potential for ongoing damage in the body. The earlier we catch it, the earlier we can control it, and that also prevents the transmission of the virus to others,” said Dr. Horberg.

He said the sooner a person gets diagnosed, the easier it is to treat the disease.

“Any infection when recognized early is easier to treat and the long term consequences are less.”

The U.S. Department of Health & Human Services hosts an online tool to find HIV testing locations near you.

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