Testing & Diagnosis for Sexually Transmitted Diseases (STD) in Children

"As kids gets older, let them have private time with their healthcare provider. Recognize their need to separate from parents and give them space to develop a relationship with their healthcare provider so that they can receive appropriate care around STD evaluation, treatment and prevention."

-Lydia Shrier, MD, MPH, director of Clinic-Based Research in the Division of Adolescent Medicine at Boston Children's Hospital.

How is an STD diagnosed?

There are easy tests to check if you have an STD. If you have any symptoms of an STD, any unexplained problems or you think you may have been exposed to an STD (even if you don't have symptoms), see your health care provider right away and get tested.

No test for any STD is 100 percent accurate. Some STDs don't show up immediately. It could take an infection anywhere from a couple of days to a few years to show up in testing

When should my daughter get a Pap test?

A Pap test is usually done when you turn 21 or earlier if you have other risks for abnormal Pap tests,such as problems with your immune system. A Pap test doesn't check for STDs directly. However, problems on the Pap test may mean that you have gotten an STD. The Pap test is the only way to check the cells on your cervix for changes that can lead to cervical cancer. If you think you might have an STD, your health care provider will check you for an STD and explain to you when to begin Pap testing.

What to do when diagnosed?

Most STDs can be treated. Be sure to start treatment as early as you can.

It's important that you:

  • begin treatment immediately, take the full course of medications and follow your physician's advice
  • don't breastfeed a baby or use breast milk to feed a baby
  • avoid sexual activity while under treatment for an STD
  • tell your sexual partners (or have them notified) about possible exposure
  • have a follow-up test to be sure the STD has been successfully treated

Where can I be tested in the United States if I can't go see my physician?

National HIV and STD Testing Resources

This Web site has a feature where you can type in your zip code, and get the names and addresses of testing locations near you. It's sponsored by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).