Sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) are infections that are passed from one person to another during sexual contact. STDs include diseases such as HIV, chlamydia, gonorrhea, syphilis, genital herpes and genital warts.
STDs are widespread. More than 12 million people in the U.S. are infected each year. Often, people with STDs don’t know that they are infected because many STDs have no signs or symptoms.
If left untreated, STDs can cause serious medical problems such as:
- sterility (being unable to have a child)
- brain damage
- heart disease
- birth defects
- low birth rate
- premature birth
- increased risk for some types of cancer
If you’re worried that you may have put yourself at risk for a STD, you should get tested. Getting tested will allow you to receive any treatments that you may need. The Health Department offers free STD testing at its clinics in White Plains and Yonkers. STD clinic visits include a medical exam, laboratory testing and prescriptions for medication, if needed.
You can protect yourself and others from STDs. While abstinence is the only sure way to avoid getting an STD, practicing safer sex can reduce your risk. Safer sex practices include always using latex condoms, limiting the number of partners you have, and having regular medical exams.
Do you know your HIV status?
The Westchester County Department of Health encourages all residents, ages 13 and up, to get tested and learn their HIV status. The federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta estimates that one in five people do not know they are HIV positive. Chances are these people have never been tested for HIV because they do not believe that they are at risk. Get tested and Say Yes To The Test (By law, health care providers must offer an HIV test to all patients aged 13 - 64), because HIV testing saves lives.
People with HIV and AIDS are living longer, healthier and more productive lives. There is still no cure for HIV, but our STD clinics now have a new tool in our prevention tool-kit, pre-exposure prophylaxis, or PrEP, which is an HIV antiretroviral medication that when taken consistently before a potential HIV exposure can prevent infection in people at risk. PrEP can help reduce the number of new HIV cases. It is indicated for people who have had a recent negative HIV test result and are at high risk for infection. PrEP should be part of a comprehensive prevention plan. Couples may use PrEP to protect a seronegative partner when trying to conceive with a seropositive partner. To learn more about PrEP and other STD/HIV risk reduction strategies, visit our STD clinics or call (914) 995-5800.
Locate a Health Department clinic near you and get a free and confidential HIV test in White Plains or Yonkers. Other Westchester County Agencies offer HIV counseling and testing. These agencies offer testing for other STDs as well. Tests are also sometimes offered at health fairs, gyms, housing complexes, churches, community centers and hair salons.
These are the HIV tests available:
Rapid HIV test
A blood (finger stick) or oral sample is taken and developed while you wait. The test takes about 20 minutes to show the result. If your rapid HIV test is reactive (or positive), it will need to be confirmed by a standard test, which is sent to a laboratory.
Standard HIV Test
A blood sample is taken from the vein and sent to a laboratory. You will be given an appointment to come back in two weeks after the test to get your test result.
Confidential HIV Test
The Rapid or Standard HIV test can be done as a confidential test. If you have a confidential HIV test, you will give your name and other identifying information (age, gender) at the time of testing; and the test result will be put in your medical record. If your HIV test result is reactive (or positive), your name will be given confidentially to the New York State Department of Health to help the department better respond to the HIV/AIDS epidemic in New York State. The confidentiality of all HIV-related information is protected by New York State Public Health Law.
HIV Counseling and Testing Clinic Schedule
Testing is available for free on a walk-in basis at many of the clinics. The schedule is subject to change, please call in advance to confirm date and time.