Don’t wait to get tested for STIs and HIV

“Get yourself tested”— a phrase used often throughout the pandemic, referring to getting yourself tested for COVID-19. However, during the month of April, Get Yourself Tested or GYT refers to a nationwide campaign encouraging young people to get tested and treated for sexually transmitted infections (STIs) and HIV.

STI testing dropped off significantly in recent years, with only 707 STI tests conducted by Public Health Madison & Dane County in 2020 compared to 1,952 in 2019.

“This campaign couldn’t come at a more important time, after regular health checkups and screenings have unfortunately taken a backseat during the pandemic for many people, including getting tested for STIs,” said Madeleine Armstrong, Public Health nurse.

STIs impact young people the most. In the U.S., almost half of all new infections in 2018 were among people aged 15-24. Some STIs can lead to lasting and serious health problems if they are not treated. An untreated STI, like chlamydia, can make it difficult or impossible for a woman to get pregnant.

Public Health Madison & Dane County offers a Sexual Health clinic, which welcomes people of all ages, sexual orientations, gender identities and gender expressions. The clinic provides STI testing and birth control options, including free condoms.

“We know that many teens don’t feel comfortable talking to their primary healthcare providers about sex during annual health visits. Our clinic offers a judgment free and confidential space to get some of those sexual and reproductive health questions answered,” said Armstrong.
People can make an appointment at the clinic by calling (608) 243-0411 or find more information online at publichealthmdc.com/sexualhealth.

“Clients can now fill out their information and sexual history forms through a secure and confidential link before coming in for their appointment. This helps not only streamline the process for the client, it also helps us be prepared,” said Armstrong.

Other local options for testing and treatment include Planned Parenthood of Wisconsin, for UW students, the University Health Services Sexual Health Clinic. You can also reach out to your regular healthcare provider.
 

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Health & Safety