The number of sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) has dramatically increased in the United States in the past five years. Pennsylvania’s rate has exceeded the national averages in the past two years. In fact, for the fifth year in a row, common reportable STDs, including gonorrhea, chlamydia, and primary/secondary syphilis, have reported a sharp spike, according to a recent analysis from the Centers of Disease Control and Prevention’s STDs surveillance report 2019. Reportedly, the number of STDs in Pennsylvania (PA) climbed at a rate of 4.9% in 2019 compared to 2018 numbers.
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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 Pennsylvania. 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.
Pennsylvania STD Data
Throughout PA’s southwestern region, the STDs scenario has been far more dramatic than elsewhere. In 2017, around 11% increase in STDs was noted in Allegheny and six contagious counties. Furthermore, between 2017 and 2018, Westmoreland County recorded the lowest increase in STDs at 2.9%, and Washington County had the highest percentage of spike with over 35%.
The Pennsylvania Department of Health revealed in its annual STDs surveillance report that chlamydia was the most reported STD in the state, and gonorrhea was the second most common STD. Overall, the state reported 59,340 chlamydia cases, 15,887 Gonorrhea cases, and 797 primary/secondary syphilis cases. Armstrong County saw a 55% decline in gonorrhea and an 11% decline in chlamydia cases. On the other hand, Fayette reported a whopping 46% increment in gonorrhea and a 5% rise in chlamydia cases.
In PA, early syphilis is at its highest rate in more than two decades. Between 2016 and 2019, early syphilis cases in women of child-bearing age (15-44 years) rose by 114%. In 2015 approximately 78 cases were reported in PA, and in 2019, the number of cases rose to 167.
According to the data shared by the PA Department of Health Bureau of Epidemiology, in 2018, the rate of new HIV diagnoses in the state’s young adults was approximately 21/100,000 people. The diagnoses rate was higher among young adults as they accounted for 13% of the overall cases. And 53% of these new diagnoses among young adults were African Americans in 2018. Most of the people diagnosed with HIV were from large population centers like Allegheny and Philadelphia counties.
In 2017, the rate of new HIV diagnoses was 8.4/100,000 people. Philadelphia County reported the highest number of cases with 31/100,000 people, and one out of 48 rural counties reported a higher number of HIV cases. On the contrary, 7 out of the 19 urban counties reported a higher number of cases in PA.
Among the 34,144 people living with the disease in PA and over 1,000 new diagnoses during 2018, the cumulative death rate among infected individuals was 42%. This means there were 562 HIV-associated deaths among Pennsylvanians at a rate of 5.0/100,000 people, according to the statistics shared by AIDSVu.
PA residents below thirty years of age accounted for around 44% of all reported syphilis cases in 2019, 68% of all gonorrhea cases, and 85% of all chlamydia diagnoses.
The state’s STD surveillance data revealed that in 2018, the state’s chlamydia rates among women were comparatively higher than the national average, reporting over 580 cases/100,000 women in PA compared to over 692 cases/100,000 women in the USA. The same report further noted that sexually transmitted infections are the leading risk factors for adverse perinatal outcomes like miscarriage, stillbirth, ectopic pregnancy, congenital disabilities, preterm delivery, newborn illnesses, and death. Conversely, the rate of gonorrhea among Pennsylvanian females was lower than the national average, with 92.6 cases and 145.8 cases per 100,000 women, respectively.
In 2014, the chlamydia-related morbidity rate was reportedly higher among African Americans with 1,178 cases/100,000 people. This rate was around 11 times higher than white Pennsylvanians, who reported 105.2 cases/100,000 people.
On the other hand, the gonorrhea rate among African American males aged 15-44 was 21 times higher with 960.6 cases/100,000 people compared to white males from the same age group, who reported 45.4 cases/100,000 people. Gonorrhea rate among African American females in PA aged 15-44 was 15 times higher with 883.8 cases/100,000 people than white females from the same age group as they accounted for 58.9 cases/100,000 people.
The syphilis rate was 11 times higher among African American males with 37.8 cases/100,000 people than whites with 3.2 cases/100,000 people. Hispanics in PA reported 425.1 cases of chlamydia in 2014 against 105.2 cases/100,000 cases in whites. This indicates chlamydia rates among Hispanics were more than four times higher than whites. Similarly, the gonorrhea rate among Hispanic males aged 15-44 was four times higher than white males, and Hispanic females had over three times higher rates than white females aged 15-44. A similar situation was reported in syphilis as Hispanic males reported 9.8 cases/100,000 people, an average three times higher than the rate reported among white males, 3.2 cases/100,000 people.
Men having sex with men remains the predominant HIV transmission mode in PA, according to the state’s HIV surveillance data 2018, as it accounted for 65% of all new diagnoses. The second leading risk factor was heterosexual contact, whereas the perinatally acquired infection rate reported a sharp decline and reached zero in 2017-2018.
In 2016, 20 to 29 years old experienced inclines in new HIV diagnoses rates while other population groups reported a decline. Most persons diagnosed with HIV during 2018 were between ages 20 and 49. The Department of Health noted that within the past five years, 20-29-year-old people accounted for the highest proportion of new diagnoses, with 360 new cases out of 966 cases. Young adults reportedly accounted for 426 new cases in 2016. A majority of the cases among young adults were reported in urbanized southeastern counties.
In PA, the extensive disparity is observed in terms of HIV distribution among races and ethnicities. In 2018, less than 1,000 new diagnoses were reported in the state among the black population, while black males were three times more susceptible to contracting the virus than black females. It is worth noting that Blacks and Hispanics makeup 11% and 6.6% of the PA population but account for 47% and 18% of all new HIV diagnoses. Black males accounted for 51.6 cases/100,000 people, and females reported 15.9 cases/100,000 people. Hispanics reported 18.6 cases/100,000 people against 3.0/100,000 people for white population.
In 2018, the rate of new HIV diagnoses in PA was 7.5 cases per 100,000 people, but the rates for males were relatively higher than females, with 7.5 and 3.2 cases per 100,000 population, respectively. Moreover, black Americans accounted for 49% of people living with HIV at the end of 2018.
By race, Blacks had a higher death rate than Hispanics and whites with 14.4 per 100,000 population against 1.1/100,000 for whites and 4.5/100,000 population for Hispanics. Hence, it can be stated that the death rates among Black Pennsylvanians were 14 times higher than whites. Black males reported a higher rate of deaths by HIV compared to black females with 21.8 deaths/100,000 males and 7.5/100,000 people, respectively. The reasons behind these disparities are yet unknown, but it could be due to stigma, lack of access to care, systematic racism, and other social factors.
Pennsylvania Department of Health STD program is one of the most significant state initiatives. The program’s mission is to prevent/intervene in the transmission of STDs. The program has several core functions, including managing STD service delivery, training and education, surveillance, and interactive sessions with professional health care providers and community organizations. The STD program employs a professional and client-centric approach to people seeking STD diagnosis or treatment. Part of its core functions is partnering with local health care providers and offering confidential and free-of-charge STD testing facilities through dedicated STD clinics across the state.
In PA, CDC funds the state and local health departments to implement science-based prevention and control services to reduce STDs. This funding focuses on devising scalable, high-impact, sustainable, and cost-effective prevention methods. Moreover, PA is part of a more comprehensive network of STD programs responsible for collecting additional information to quickly and aptly determine STD trends and obtain funding to focus on communities through leveraging partnerships and support STD prevention.
In Pennsylvania, those aware of their STD status and are infected with an STD or HIV/AIDS can be charged with aggravated assault, reckless endangerment, or even attempted murder if they engage in sexual activity, spit, or bite on people. However, it is worth noting that, unlike most US states, PA doesn’t have a specific law that criminalizes STDs transmission, and prosecutors instead use the state’s general criminal laws to persecute people who intentionally expose others to the virus.
The HIV Planning Group (HPG) contributes to HIV care/prevention planning in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. The HPG has developed a 5-year timeline for the Stakeholder Process that includes an HPG-wide annual review and program evaluation. Disease Intervention Specialists are contacted via the state pharmaceutical programs and state HIV programs to participate in the HIV preventive measures planning process. The HPG has added STI and Drug and Alcohol programs providers to develop effective strategies to prevent the conversion of sexually transmitted diseases into HIV and AIDS. Additionally, the group reviews the funding applications from the PA Department of Health sent to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA).
This Integrated HIV Prevention and Care Plan (IHPCP) is a Pennsylvania state jurisdictional group covering the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania and the Philadelphia EMA. Another effective initiative is the AIDS Resource program. It is a non-profit organization offering HIV prevention programs, HIV/STI testing, and aid to people living with HIV or AIDS. This community-based organization was founded in 1988 in Lycoming County. The program began with the sole mission of preventing further infection via outreach and educational programs, particularly reaching out to culturally sensitive people.
StopHIV is another program
designed to fight HIV in PA with the guidance of the state Department of
Health. The website stopHIV.com serves as a portal for government, community
stakeholders, and academic entities to share HIV prevention and care strategies
and essential information and resources. The program was created by the HIV
Prevention and Care Project (HPCP) and officially founded at the University of
Pittsburgh Graduate School of Public Health to assist the Pennsylvania
Department of Health in meeting its HIV prevention objectives.
Select a city below to see more local STD testing options
|Kelly, PA||Rydal, PA|
|Tunkhannock, PA||Greens Landing, PA|
|Hyde Park, PA||McBride, PA|
|Stewartstown, PA||Grapeville, PA|
|Fulton Run, PA||Elmwood Terrace, PA|
|Jennerstown, PA||Deerfield, PA|
|Newbridge, PA||East Bethlehem, PA|
|Harveys Run, PA||Goodyear, PA|
|Croyland, PA||Huston Run, PA|
|Geneva, PA||Crooked Creek, PA|
|Germantown, PA||Arlingham, PA|
|Rutherford, PA||Marlborough, PA|
|West Damascus, PA||Milford, PA|
|Garrett, PA||Utica, PA|
|Stonemont, PA||Waterloo, PA|
|East Providence, PA||West Alexander, PA|
|Kaylor, PA||Topton, PA|
|Meridian, PA||Booneville, PA|
|Upper Lehigh, PA||Fortenia, PA|
|Holbrook, PA||Oniontown, PA|
|Carbon, PA||Virginville, PA|
|Long Branch, PA||Peaceful Valley, PA|
|West Chillisquaque, PA||Gaines, PA|
|East Charleroi, PA||Loag, PA|
|Fisher Heights, PA||Lucasville, PA|
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.
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.
It would vary depending on the condition that is being tested. STDs behave differently due to the varying pathogenicity of each STD’s causative organism. In some instances, you can get accurately tested as early as two weeks following exposure, while some are intermittently inaccurate due to its recurrence (much like in the case of herpes infections). To avoid this, be sure to discuss the intricacies of the test with your physician to understand whether a particular test could provide you with a conclusive diagnosis or if it still needs another confirmatory test to establish its premise.
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.
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.
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.