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.
|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.
The Health Secretary of Pennsylvania, Alison Beam, recently revealed that the only way to decrease the risk of contracting an STD is to get tested regularly.
“Sexually transmitted diseases are serious diseases that impact many Pennsylvanians each year. It is essential that all residents are aware of the risks and dangers associated with STDs,” Beam noted.
It is important to note that most STDs can be easily diagnosed and treated if tested at the right time. If diagnosed late, the STD can cause several additional health issues that could be life-threatening.
“Which is why we encourage all residents to talk to their doctor about getting tested so we can further prevent diseases and keep our residents healthy,” Secretary Beam said.
In PA, cases of congenital syphilis have increased lately, which is a concerning issue. A staggering 185% increase was noted on a national level between 2014 and 2018, whereas, in PA, seven cases of congenital syphilis were reported in 2018 and five cases in 2019. The number of cases in PA is the highest in congenital syphilis in the past 25 years. That’s why pregnant women must get tested at their first and third trimester prenatal visits.
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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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.