STD Testing Facts

STD Testing & Why You Should Get Tested

doctor about to give an std testSexually transmitted diseases (STDs) are a taboo topic in our society. However, they can cause serious health problems when you don’t treat them. STD testing helps you stay healthy, so keep reading to learn the facts about STD testing and to find out where you can get tested.

Why Is STD Testing Important?

The CDC estimates that about 19 million new cases of STDs happen every year. Since many STDs don’t have obvious symptoms, getting tested is the best way to find out if you have one. Knowing if you have an STD lets you treat your disease and protect yourself and your sexual partners. While STDs seem scary, you can get a diagnosis and treatment for many of them easily. You just need to take the first step.

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Am I at Risk for an STD?

Everyone who has sex has a risk of getting an STD. Some people who don’t have sex can also get STDs, including bacterial vaginosis (BV) and other infections. You have an even higher risk than usual if you inject drugs, have multiple sex partners, don’t use protection or practice anal sex.

How Do They Do an STD Test?

The method used to test a patient for an STD depends on the type of STD that the clinic wants to diagnose. Your provider might get a swab of your genitals, check your blood or get a sample of a fluid such as urine or discharge. You can ask the provider about the method they will use before you get the test. Let them know what you feel comfortable with and try to find a solution together.

Will I Be Judged for Getting an STD Test?

Medical professionals receive training that teaches them not to judge patients who have STDs. Unfortunately, not all doctors follow this advice. However, many providers who openly advertise their STD testing services do not judge patients for getting tested. If you worry about judgment, try to find a provider that clearly says they don’t judge you when they describe their services.

No matter what, treating your STD is much more important than not getting judged. Remember that having an STD is not a moral failing — it is just a medical condition like having a broken arm.

How Do I Talk to My Partner About STD Testing?

If you have a sexual partner, getting tested together will help you prevent spreading an infection back and forth. However, you might feel nervous about talking to them about it. Let them know you’re asking because you want to stay healthy, not because you think they’re “dirty.” Don’t let your partner pressure you to have sex with them if they don’t want to talk about sexual health with you.

Where Do I Get Tested for STDs Near Me?

Patients in the Harrisburg area can get STD and HIV testing right here at Hamilton Health Center. We serve everyone, regardless of HIV status, sexual orientation, income or background. Most importantly, we will never judge you for getting tested. Please call us at (717) 232-9971 to schedule an appointment today.

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STI Prevention Tips

STI Prevention Tips

A doctor about to talk to a patient about how to prevent STIsThe prevention and control of sexually transmitted diseases is critical for sexually active people. The best way to prevent a sexually transmitted infection (STI) is to abstain from all sexual activity— but that’s not practical for most people. So, we will give you proven STI and STD prevention tips that’ll help you enjoy an active sex life without the health risks.

Practice Mutual Monogamy

Do your best to stick with just one sexual partner. The only way to have unprotected sex and remain safe from infections like syphilis, gonorrhea, HIV and chlamydia is for you and your partner to abstain from having sex with other partners. This is called mutual monogamy.

Staying faithful to just one partner will limit your exposure to STIs. The risk of STIs will be very minimal if one or both of you has not had sexual contact with another person.

When one person has had sexual contact with someone else, both of you should get tested for STIs before any sexual contact. Let your healthcare provider know how long ago you or your partner had sexual contact with another person.

Communicate Openly With Your Partner

Many young adults avoid talking about sex at the beginning of a relationship, but it’s vital to talk about it if you want to prevent STIs.

Speak with your partner openly about sexual health and STIs before you engage in sexual activities. Practicing open communication about sex enhances trust and mutual respect. Be sure to talk to your doctor about your sexual practices.

Use Condoms

Use condoms correctly each time you have sex — and particularly casual sex. Condoms may not have a 100% guarantee against infection or pregnancy, but they’re quite effective when used correctly. Remember to:

  • Make sure the condom hasn’t expired
  • Use only water-based lubricants to avoid damaging the condom
  • Always leave enough room at the tip of the condom
  • Don’t reuse a condom or remove it and wear it again

Abstain From Sex When You Think a Partner Has an STI

Always avoid sexual contact with anyone who has a discharge, rash, genital sores or any symptoms of an STI. It’s best practice to:

  • Let you or your partner see a doctor and get treated before you resume sexual activity
  • Follow all the instructions of your physician
  • Always use a condom if you’re having sex with a new partner
  • Let your doctor give you or your partner an all-clear report before you start having sex again

Avoid Using Recreational Drugs and Alcohol

Getting stoned or drunk can increase your risk of contracting STIs. When you’re intoxicated, you won’t be able to exercise the judgment required to practice safe sex.

Abstaining from recreational drug use can cut your risk of being coerced to have unsafe sex. The use of recreational drugs in public places like nightclubs can easily get you to act against the good decisions you made earlier on. If you must use recreational drugs like marijuana, you should do so at home where the cerebral euphoria can wear off without making any regrettable decisions.

Get an STD Prevention Education With Hamilton Health

Hamilton Health provides STD prevention education for a wide variety of patient groups including low-income earners. We’re committed to helping you enjoy good health while you’re sexually active.

Call us at (717) 232-9971 to book an appointment with one of our caring and compassionate healthcare providers today.

Learn How to Prevent HIV/AIDS

HIV and African Americans

Recent statistics from the CDC on HIV prevention show that African Americans have a greater proportion of new HIV/AIDS diagnoses than other racial/ethnic groups. In 2015, African Americans had 45 percent of HIV diagnoses.

The report further revealed that:

  • In the U.S., 17,670 of those diagnosed with HIV were African Americans.man being treated by doctor for HIV
  • Over half (58 percent) of new African American HIV cases were bisexual or gay men.
  • 38 percent of African American men who had sex with men (MSM) were between the ages of 13 and 24 years.
  • 8,702 (48 percent) of people diagnosed with AIDS were African Americans.
  • The total number of African American women diagnosed with HIV in 2015 fell by 42 percent.
  • In 2015, the HIV diagnoses among African American women was over 4,500.
  • The number of HIV cases among African American MSM increased by 22 percent.

In different ways, the African American population has had a greater increase in HIV cases than all other major ethnic groups in the U.S. This means there are more deaths caused by HIV/AIDS among this group. Unfortunately, many black children are becoming fatherless and many women are becoming widows. The future of the children of such men will be adversely affected by the rise in HIV cases because their fathers and mothers will not be able to provide adequately for their needs due to sickness or untimely death. As we observe National Black HIV/AIDS Awareness Day, we’d like to share some suggestions for a healthy and safe sex life.

Ways to Prevent HIV/AIDS

There’s an urgent need to focus on how to prevent HIV/AIDS among the African American community. As an African American, here are two things you can do to ensure you don’t get infected or spread the virus.

Get Tested

Make it a point of duty to go for an HIV test at least twice a year. You don’t need to be afraid of asking your doctor, “Do I have AIDS?” There are no stigmas attached to this and early detection can help you begin taking appropriate medication to prevent untimely death.

Use Condoms

To prevent HIV infection, you need to practice safe sex. Discuss with your partner and assess their awareness. Ask questions like:

  • “What is HIV?”
  • “Do you know your status?”
  • “Do you mind using a condom?”

Use a condom each time you have sex. Using condoms correctly can help you prevent the transmission of HIV and STDs through blood, seminal, vaginal or rectal fluids.

Sterilize Injection Equipment and Don’t Share With Others

Never share injection instruments such as needles or syringes with anyone and make sure you only receive sterilized injections. After sexual relations, sharing drug syringes and needles with another person who has HIV is the most common way African Americans contract HIV. Sharing needles allows HIV to spread through blood contact.

Ways to Treat HIV/AIDS

  • Take Medicine: HIV medication may be used to diminish the risk of HIV infection shortly after exposure to the virus. This type of medication is known as post-exposure prophylaxis (PEP). PEP works after a person has had sex without using a condom with an infected partner. To be effective, it must be taken within 72 hours after exposure. This medication needs to be taken for about four weeks to be fully effective.
    Similarly, women infected with HIV can take medicine to prevent transmitting the disease to their unborn child. The newborn child will also receive HIV medication for about four to six weeks after birth. This medicine will reduce the chances of infecting the baby with the virus in utero.
  • Use Condoms: To prevent your partner from getting infected with HIV, you must use a condom correctly each time you have sex. Using condoms the prescribed way will prevent the transfer of HIV infection and other sexually transmitted diseases each time you have vaginal, anal or oral sex. It will prevent the mixing of vaginal fluids, rectal fluids, pre-seminal fluids, semen or blood, which allow the spread of HIV.

Ask Us for Help!

At Hamilton Healthcare, we offer HIV testing and counseling. We’re a Federal Qualified Health Center and we don’t discriminate against anyone based on sexual orientation. So, we encourage you to be open about your needs and ask all the questions you wish. To get more information about HIV/AIDS prevention and treatment, give us a call at (717) 232-9971 today.

Important Reasons to Visit the OBGYN

What is an OBGYN?

reasons to visit an OBGYNOn this year’s World AIDS Day (December 1, 2017), we’ll take a few moments to reflect on reproductive health. We will answer the question “What is an OBGYN?” and give reasons why you should visit one. A gynecologist, also known as OBGYN, is a doctor that specializes in women’s reproductive health.

What Can Gynecologists Do for You?

When you visit our gynecologists, they will:

  • Help you to understand the way your reproductive system works
  • Teach you what a normal vaginal discharge should be and how to tell if there’s a problem
  • Teach you what to do to protect yourself when you have sex

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7 Reasons to Go to a Gynecologist

If you’re still wondering whether you need to visit a gynecologist or you’re asking, “How can I find a cheap OBGYN clinic near me,” then you should consider some of the following reasons why your visit will be very rewarding:

To Check for STDs

Sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) are diseases that are caused by different types viruses and bacteria that stay in the genitals of an infected person. This means you can get STDs via sexual intercourse or by putting your hand, mouth or genitals on an infected person. Your gynecologist can help determine if you have an STD — especially if you have symptoms like itching, pain, abnormal vaginal discharge or sores.

To Make Sure You’re Not Pregnant

If you’ve been having sex and you suddenly stop having your period, you need to visit your gynecologist. You may be in a relationship with a steady lover, or you may have had a casual sexual relationship with someone. Anyhow, it’s better to visit your OBGYN quickly for a pregnancy test so you can confirm if you’re pregnant or not.

To Learn How to Get Birth Control

As soon as you’re sexually active, you need to take steps to prevent unwanted pregnancies, especially if you’re not ready to have a baby. Your gynecologist will be happy to have a counseling session with you. They’ll provide you with a variety of birth control techniques and show you how to use them effectively.

To Discuss Menstrual Problems

If you notice that your menstrual cycle has suddenly become irregular, if you bleed for a long time, or some months pass without seeing your period, you need to visit your gynecologist immediately. Ignoring such symptoms may lead to serious reproductive issues in the future.

To Get Breast Exams

Gynecologists can help you conduct a thorough breast exam. Breast exams are particularly important when you’re over 40. But you may need to do them more often if you have a history of breast cancer cases in your family. If you’re over forty and you have had a breast cancer exam within the last six months, it’s time to book an appointment with your gynecologist.

To Get a Pap Smear/Pelvic Exam

It’s quite important to get a pelvic exam if you’re above the age of 21 years. Pelvic exams are particularly necessary when you have pelvic pain, delayed childbearing, strange vaginal discharge and menstrual disorders. Also, going for a pap smear can help you reduce the risk of cancer and many other health problems.

For Checkups After Sex

Should you visit your OBGYN after every time you have sexual intercourse? No. But you should visit your gynecologist for sexually related issues, especially when you notice that sex is very painful, you miss your period after sex, or you discover strange symptoms on your genitals. Most sexually related problems can be treated effectively when you respond quickly.

Come to Us!

At Hamilton Healthcare, we offer specialized services to care for all women’s reproductive and family health issues, including annual exams, birth control prescriptions, prevention of STDs and family planning services. Give us a call at (717) 232-9971 to book an appointment with our gynecologist today.

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