Monday, April 12, 2010

Myth#6 "Normal Pap" = Disease-Free

Okay, the next myth surrounding sexually transmitted infections is that a "normal" report after a Pap smear means you are disease-free. Pap smears are wonderful- we are detecting cervical cancer earlier and curing it more easily. BUT- a Pap smear ONLY TESTS for cervical cancer, and possibly HPV (the human papilloma virus, which is the cause of both cervical cancers and genital warts.) Pap smears do NOT test for gonorrhea, chlamydia, HIV, herpes, etc.
Many women believe that they are automatically tested for all STDs when they have their "annual" exam. Certainly, this is a terrific time to be tested, but it is not a given. If you have had a new sexual partner since you were last tested for sexually transmitted diseases, PLEASE ASK your doctor to test you for all STDs.
Guys, you're not off the hook here. When you have YOUR physical exams, a "normal" report does not mean you are disease-free either, UNLESS you have asked your doctor to test you for STDs. The good news is that blood and urine tests together will do the trick- no swabbing necessarily needed.
BOTTOM LINE: Don't ASSUME you're being tested for STDs unless you specifically ask- and even then, make sure you know exactly which diseases were checked.

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