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.
|Testing Method||Waiting Times||Speed of Results||Positive Consultation|
Private Testing (Walk-In Clinic)
10-20 Minutes with No Wait
Free With Positive Result
At-Home STD Testing
Free With Positive Result
Call for Appointment
Call for Appointment
Out-of-Pocket Cost Required
Limited Hours and Long Lines
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.
According to the senior deputy director of the HIV/AIDs, Hepatitis, STD, and TB (HAHSTA) in the District of Columbia Department of Health, Michael Kharfen, regarding STDs, the reported chlamydia, gonorrhea, and syphilis infections have dropped considerably. However, these are still higher than everywhere else in the country. Although multiple factors contribute to the spread of STDs, such as insufficient access to STD testing and medical care, and individual's socioeconomic status, and other social circumstances, it is a fact that STDs are constantly rising in this district.
Sexually transmitted infections (STIs) have been rising in the United States, as per the 2018 report released by the Centers for Disease Control (CDC). Nationwide surveillance figures indicate a concerning 67% rise in gonorrhea incidence between 2013 and 2017, a whopping 35% rise in chlamydia, and almost double the rate of syphilis during this period.
The District of Columbia (DC) reported one of the highest HIV prevalence rates across the country, while the district boasts 1.9% of the general population according to 2017 data. Sexual transmission, particularly among men who have sex with men (MSM), was a crucial driver of the HIV epidemic in the District of Columbia. That's because STIs are a well-known marker of HIV vulnerability, acquisition and transmission. A key area of focus of the DC Department of Health recently has been encouraging people of all ages, races, genders, and sexual orientations to get screened for STDs and STIs.
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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.
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.
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.
Similar to what was previously mentioned, herpes infections are known for their recurring tendencies – causing outbreaks now and then and thus causing an intermittent spike in the patient’s viral load for specific instances. In addition to that, other STDs also take time to proliferate and produce a sufficient viral load that could warrant a positive and, more importantly, accurate diagnosis and detection from the tests being administered. As such, detecting an STD a few days following exposure is often complex and unpredictable – leading physicians to follow a certain timeframe instead for testing STDs instead of blindly testing immediately following exposure. Physical exams, however, may supplement inaccurate laboratory diagnoses, especially in cases where the test is prone to false results.
Although NAATs are well-known for their accuracy and sensitivity in detecting most STDs, it is also subject to certain inconsistencies, especially in the case of herpes infections. In Herpes, outbreaks often result in a relative increase in the patient’s viral load – leading to a timeline that usually has specific peaks at certain intervals instead of a consistent rise in viral load throughout. As such, sensitive tests such as NAATs are still unable to accurately diagnose herpes conditions, especially in cases where the patient has recently become asymptomatic and is currently between outbreaks. Other tests such as culture testing and type-specific virologic tests are often employed instead as a confirmatory diagnosis for the patient’s condition.
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.
Similar to how other testing procedures behave, false-positive results are still evident even in STD testing. False-positive and even false-negative results are standard instances that showcase the imperfection of the test’s design – a factor that is present everywhere. However, despite certain inconsistencies in laboratory tests as such, physicians commonly use confirmatory tests that would often take another path entirely to arrive at the same conclusion – solidifying the initial test’s diagnosis while still ensuring that the second test is not following the inconsistencies of the first.
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.