Sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) have been underestimated in the public health spectrum. According to a 1997 report from the Institute of Medicine (IOM), STDs can be described as "hidden epidemics of tremendous health and economic consequence in the United States," and that the "scope, impact, and consequences of STDs are under-recognized by the public and healthcare professionals." And, the facts remain the same even over two decades later. District of Columbia is observing a sharp rise in the number of STD cases over the years. The district often gets ranked among the USA's top twenty most impacted regions regarding STDs.
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Which Method of STD Testing is Suitable for Me?
Every sexually active individual must protect their sexual health. Regular STD testing is the only way to care for your sexual health. However, sometimes it becomes confusing to select the right testing method as there are so many options available. For your convenience, we have gathered information about all available STD testing methods in District of Columbia. Check them out to find out which option is suitable for you.
This is one of the most popular ways to get tested for STDs today. These tests combine the best of both worlds for convenience and accuracy. You will order the test online at home, but you can walk into a professional lab testing center to get tested.
Another option is to simply visit your regular clinic and talk to your doctor.
If you do not want to visit a testing center, then a great alternative is an at-home test kit. You don’t even need to leave your house to get tested for STDs this way, which makes it the most discreet option. Everything is done through email and snail mail.
One last option for STD testing is a trip to a free clinic. If you go to a public STD-testing clinic, then you may get a free or discounted test, depending on your financial situation.
Learn more in our ultimate guide to STD testing.
It can be, but it does not necessarily have to be. What many people need to understand is that laboratory tests would most often than not be relatively pricey due to the technology that is being utilized behind these diagnostic techniques. However, opting for specific laboratories that offer more convenient testing procedures and discounted prices for diagnostic tests would help ensure that the price will not be much of an issue in providing you with the conclusive diagnosis of your condition. It might take some independent scanning to find the right testing center for you in the most acceptable price range, but it is not as impossible as many people make it out to be.
Considering that a wide variety of testing kits and laboratory procedures can be performed to determine conclusively whether you have a particular STD or not, the time that it will take for your results to return will also be subject to the same inconsistency. Although there are specific laboratories that could produce your results even by the end of the day (albeit, it is extremely rare for institutions to do so unless necessary), most would often take a few days to a week before the results are either delivered or posted online through your secure personal profile (in the case of online transactions). In addition to that, the capability of the laboratory performing the test may also contribute to the overall timeframe of result delivery – causing delays in cases where there are several requests or understaffed to provide expedited results.
For more information, skip to the FAQs section on this page.
District of Columbia STD Data
According to CDC's 2018 STD Surveillance Report, DC stood out as one of the leading areas in the country for high STD incidences. In 2018, DC reported 1,298.2 chlamydia cases per 100,000 population compared to West Virginia, which reported over 800 cases per 100,000 people. During the same time, DC's gonorrhea incidence rate was 611.0 cases/100,000 people, significantly higher than Vermont, which reported 43.0 cases/100,000 people and Mississippi, where just over 326 cases were reported that year. The rate of primary and secondary syphilis cases in the District of Columbia was
In 2019, as per the data released by the DC Department of Health in its 2020 HIV/STD Surveillance Report, there were 9,337 chlamydia cases, 4,374 gonorrhea cases, and around 297 syphilis cases (primary and secondary) reported in DC. About 37% of the syphilis cases occurred among people living with HIV, but this rate has declined 43% since 2015.
It is worth noting that DC has observed a 70% rise in the number of gonorrhea cases as it recorded 2,579 cases in 2015, which increased to 3,485 in 2016, 4,647 in 2017, 4,256 in 2018, and 4,374 in 2019. On the other hand, DC has observed a 26% rise in chlamydia diagnoses across the region, with 7,386 cases reported in 2015, 7,879 in 2016, 9,413 in 2017, 9,013 in 2018, and 9,337 in 2019.
According to the 2020 annual HIV/AIDS epidemiology and surveillance report, there were a total of 12,408 residents of the District of Columbia that made up around 1.8% of the total population was living with HIV. During 2019 there were 282 newly diagnosed cases in the District of Columbia.
The figures from 2019 represented a decrease of approximately 61%, comparing it with data from 2011. The rate of people living with HIV per 100,000 population in the District of Columbia was 2,325. The report further indicates that most people living with HIV in the District of Columbia were males and were 50 years or older. Considering the prevalence of HIV in the District of Columbia, the virus disproportionately affected Black/African Americans.
As per the CDC STD Surveillance Report 2018, half of the STD cases in the country and DC occur among people aged 15-24. This is an alarming situation as people are getting infected with a life-threatening disease at such a young age. Apart from the impact of rising STD cases on the public health and well-being of a young demographic, this is an economic drain on the overall healthcare system as STD testing and treatment costs billions to the country every year.
In its 2015 DC health profile, CDC revealed that the district reported 11.98.1 chlamydia cases and over 416 gonorrhea cases per 100,000 people. Reportedly, females were 1.3 times more likely to contract an STD as they accounted for 1337.6 cases/100,000 people compared to males with 994.2 cases/100,000 population. The rate of primary and secondary syphilis was over 26 cases per 100,000 individuals in 2011, which decreased to over 14 cases/100,000 people in 2015. The district reported four cases of congenital syphilis between 2011 and 2015.
The surveillance data released by the DC Department of Health in 2020, one congenital syphilis case was reported in DC in 2019. Among the overall 297 syphilis cases reported in 2019, nine out of ten diagnoses were males, two in three diagnoses were among men who have sex with men, one in two cases were diagnosed in African-Americans, and one in four infected individuals were aged 30-39.
Regarding gonorrhea, in 2019, two in five diagnoses were reported in people aged 20-29, and seven in ten cases were reported in males. Nearly 1.9% of DC residents aged 18-19 acquired gonorrhea in 2019. Conversely, one in five chlamydia infections were diagnosed among people aged 13-19 in DC, and one in two were aged 20-29. Moreover, 5.4% of DC residents aged 18-19 acquired chlamydia in 2019.
According to a report by AIDSVu, by the end of 2019, there were a total of 14,041 people living with HIV in the District of Columbia. The rate of people living with HIV in the district per 100,000 populations in 2019 was 2325. Of the people living with HIV, 72.8% were male residents of the District of Columbia, while 27.2% were females.
HIV commonly affects certain groups like gay or bisexual males, transgender women and ethnicities like the Black American population. In the District of Columbia, Black Americans made up most people living with HIV (70.1%). Of the total numbers, 15% of the people living with HIV were white Americans, and 8.6% were Hispanic or Latin. The number of newly diagnosed cases of HIV during 2019 was 255, while the rate of new diagnosis per population 100,000 was 42.
Considering the numbers from the same data, HIV was most common in age 55 years and above (40.9%), 25% of the people were of the age group 45 to 54 years, 18.7% were between the age group 34 to 45 years, while 13.6% and 1.9% were of the age groups 25 to 34 years and 13 to 24 years respectively.
The same report indicates that the total number of mortalities due to HIV related complications in the District of Columbia in 2019 was 184. The rate of HIV related mortalities in 2019 per 100,000 populations was 31. Most of the deaths reported in the District of Columbia were in males (65.2%), while 34.8% of the total HIV related mortalities were female residents.
According to the same report, the most popular mode of transmission of HIV in males was male to male sexual contact, which accounted for 71.6% of the total transmission. 12.1% of the transmission in males was due to heterosexual contact and 9.7% of the use of contaminated injections for drugs. In females, the most common transmission modes of the virus were heterosexual contact, which accounted for 74.8% of the total HIV cases. The less popular transmission mode in females was contaminated syringe used for drug purposes (23%).
In 2016, DC Mayor Bower released the 90/90/90/50 Plan to End the HIV Epidemic by 2020, but the expected results weren't achieved. Although there has been steady progress and the district met the plan's first goal, there is still a dire need to enhance and improve the accessibility, availability, and acceptability of STD/HIV testing and treatment services. It must be noted that the US Department of Health and Human Services launched the Ending the HIV Epidemic Initiative. The program focused on 48 counties, 7 rural states, and 2 cities, including DC and Puerto Rico.
The District of Columbia Center for AIDS Research (DC CFAR) is headquartered at the George Washington University Milken Institute School of Public Health and has received supplemental funding from the NIH (National Institutes of Health) to research ending the HIV/STD epidemic. The DC CFAR is among the 19 NIH-funded Centers established specifically for AIDS Research in the country to reduce the domestic and global STI burden.
The Sexual + Being initiative is another important step to spread awareness about the dangers of unprotected sex, HIV and STDs. It is a project from DC Health's HIV/AIDS, Hepatitis, STD and TB Administration (HAHSTA). The program offers innovative schemes to attract people to get tested for STDs and HIV. From offering free condoms to free testing and PrEP medication and other treatment options, Sexual + Being is working towards changing public perceptions about STD screening and opening up to the idea of sexual health.
Black Americans in the District of Columbia are disproportionately affected by the virus, and most of the HIV positive individuals are Black residents of the district. Us Helping Us People Into Living is an organization working for 30 years in the District of Columbia to improve the living conditions and health and well-being of Black communities in specific. This organization provides HIV testing services, case management and treatment services to HIV positive residents. It also has programs focused on creating awareness regarding the disease in the community and educating the community on the possible prevention measures.
AIDS United is yet another organization working in the District of Columbia to eliminate the HIV related disparities in communities. This organization works with other HIV care providers, ensures the provision of adequate HIV care and treatment availability of essential services, and focuses on the strategies for prevention of HIV by creating the needed awareness and making testing accessible.
Washington Health Institute is yet another organization that works in the District of Columbia to improve the health, wellbeing and living conditions of people living with HIV. This organization have infectious diseases specialists that work with the primary health care providers to ensure the best possible treatments. Washington Health Institute also provides Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis, commonly known as PrEP and post- Exposure Prophylaxis, known as PEP, medications to individuals at risk of contracting HIV either through sexual contact or through the use of contaminated syringes for drug use.
Standard STD testing can detect common sexually transmitted diseases such as HIV (Human Immunodeficiency Virus), chlamydia, gonorrhea, syphilis, herpes, and hepatitis B and C. Additional tests may be required for less common STDs or specific situations.
A nucleic acid amplification test is a laboratory procedure that professionals often perform to make detecting a particular nucleic acid or gene being targeted easier and more convenient while still ensuring that the sample being collected is relatively minimal. Nucleic acid amplification tests, or NAATs, are usually the mainstay diagnostic test for most STDs due to their ability to detect the presence of pathogenic nucleic acids and genes in the patient sample with utmost accuracy and speed. NAATs depends on their ability to replicate the target RNA and DNA to create numerous copies – resulting in an increased convenience in the detection of the desired molecules instead of trying to either blindly look for one strand in a minuscule sample or collecting a large sample that could make the patient uncomfortable throughout the process. Although NAATs are often preferred for a more conclusive diagnosis of STDs, certain exceptions such as the availability of resources and instances of intermittent viral shedding could make NAATs less desirable than other tests. Fret not, however, as your physician is knowledgeable regarding these instances and would often request the best diagnostic procedure for your instances.
Yes. Certain companies offer at-home testing kits wherein you are the one that will collect the specimens necessary for the test at the comfort of your own home. Sure, it might sometimes be subject to errors due to the potential contamination of the sample from collection to transportation, but it does offer a great deal of privacy and convenience for patients who would prefer to have their identities hidden in fear that their community will judge them.
It is recommended to get tested for STDs if you have had unprotected sexual contact, multiple sexual partners, or if you are experiencing symptoms associated with STDs. Additionally, regular testing is recommended as part of routine sexual health care, even in the absence of symptoms, especially for individuals who are sexually active.
It does vary on a case-to-case basis. Insurance policies are often particular with the instances that they would be covering with their program. Some may cover severe accidents, some may even consider “orphan disease,” and yes, some may also cover the expenses for performing STD diagnostic tests. However, considering that your insurance provider will have to verify the person's identity availing of the program, STD testing laboratories that employ a minimal collection of patient information may not accept insurance policies to prioritize privacy over affordability.
How Does it Work?
Most people experience feelings of hesitation when going to get tested for STD, despite knowing they might have contracted one. EasySTD was created to change that.
Visit your nearest lab or clinic, order your home testing kit online, and follow the given instructions from an STD testing provider.
After ordering your STD test, visit the testing center to get tested or take a self sample including urine, cotton swab, or finger prick with the home testing kit and mail it back.
Receive the lab-certified results of your STD test from your test provider via mail or phone within 2 to 3 days. If the test comes positive, consult your doctor immediately.