Being diagnosed with a sexually transmitted infection (STI) or thinking that you may have been exposed to one, can be stressful. You may feel fine or have active symptoms. Someone you were intimate with could have tested positive or you may be concerned you were exposed after a sexual encounter.
CityMD is here to help you with any situation that arises. It’s normal to feel concerned, explains Jack Liu, MD, an emergency medicine specialist at CityMD, but there is no reason to be embarrassed. Our providers and staff are well-versed in prevention, evaluation, and treatment for every type of STI — and will refer you to a specialist when needed. Just walk into any location near you.
“If you are thinking about coming in, remember it is always better to be safe than sorry,” says Dr. Liu. “We want patients to know that they can stop by for advice, testing, evaluation, and treatment in a comfortable and stigma-free environment.”
STIs have been on the rise for the last decade. Nearly 1 in every 5 people is estimated to have an STI in the U.S. The most common STIs are chlamydia and gonorrhea. Cases of monkeypox, a viral illness that is often spread through intimate contact, also began appearing around the country this past year.
Read answers to some frequently asked questions about the STI services offered at CityMD.
What types of STIs can CityMD diagnose?
We evaluate and treat, or begin treatment for:
- Hepatitis B & C*
*Your CityMD provider may begin treatment and refer you to a specialist for long-term monitoring. For example, HIV, hepatitis B and C, and syphilis require long-term monitoring by an infectious disease or liver specialist.
How can CityMD help me with STIs?
CityMD practitioners can evaluate, diagnose, and treat a wide spectrum of STIs. Safe sex practices are the best way to prevent infection, but they can also recommend preventative or prophylactic medications and vaccinations.
We commonly help patients with:
- Routine screening. People who are sexually active but do not have symptoms or a known exposure to STIs. If you are having sex with multiple partners, it is important to be checked as often as possible. You should also be screened before you have sex with a new partner.
“Many sexually active individuals engage in routine STI screening simply for peace of mind,” explains Dr. Liu. “Unlike a mammogram or other screening tests, there is no recommended frequency for STI screening. How often you need to be tested really depends on your individual risk and level of exposure.”
- Testing after a known exposure. Many individuals come to CityMD for an evaluation because a sexual partner tested positive, or the Department of Health informed them that they were exposed to an STI.
“Patients often come in frantic because they were promiscuous the night before and want to be screened, but it is important not to come in too early for testing,” explains Dr. Liu. “You may have to wait a few weeks for the test to be reliable. If your test comes back negative, and you are still concerned, we suggest repeating the test in 2 to 3 months to be certain.”
- Treatment for symptoms. Patients who experience symptoms or are diagnosed with STIs are evaluated and treated.
What are the symptoms of STIs?
Some patients may not experience any symptoms. If you feel anything abnormal, call your doctor right away. STIs can cause a wide range of symptoms including:
- Unusual discharge, irritation, or itching in the genital or anal area.
- Skin growths or abnormalities including lumps, sores, blisters, or warts.
- Painful or frequent urination.
- Rashes on any part of the body.
Individuals with HIV and hepatitis B and C tend to experience:
- Flu-like symptoms
- Frequent infections
How do you test for STIs?
Most STIs are diagnosed using a blood test or urine sample. If you have active symptoms such as an open sore your physician may take a swab of any fluid or discharge coming from the genitals or anal region.
What types of treatments does CityMD offer for STIs?
The majority of STIs can be easily treated during your visit to CityMD. Bacterial infections, insects, and germs generally clear up with antibiotics and other medications. Viruses like herpes can be managed with antiviral treatments.
Dr. Liu advises patients not to ignore symptoms. When certain infections like chlamydia fly under the radar for a long period of time, they can cause serious problems like infertility, pelvic inflammatory disease, and complications during pregnancy that can affect both mother and baby.
How can I prevent STIs?
The best way to prevent STIs is still to use condoms. Birth control methods like the pill or an IUD (intrauterine device) can protect against pregnancy but not STIs. If you are having oral, anal, or genital sex without a condom, you are putting yourself at serious risk. Individuals who have multiple sexual partners and men who have sex with men are also more likely to develop an STI.
CityMD also offers a medication called PrEP (pre-exposure prophylaxis) which is highly effective in preventing HIV when used correctly. Patients who are interested in PrEP should discuss the benefits and risks with their physicians. PrEP can cause gastrointestinal side effects such as nausea and vomiting. PrEP is generally used by:
- Individuals who engage in close intimacy with someone who has HIV.
- People with significant others or partners who are HIV-positive may choose to take this medication every day to prevent infection.
CityMD offers hepatitis B and C vaccinations. If you want to be immunized against the human papillomavirus (HPV) we can refer you to a gynecologist or primary care physician.
How will CityMD protect my privacy?
Any STI testing and treatment are confidential. CityMD has extra security measures in place for reporting STI results. CityMD staff will only give test results over the phone if additional identification such as a driver’s license number is provided.