Sexual health is an important part of overall wellness and awareness should start from puberty. Aside from the birds and the bees, parents should also discuss sexual health with their teenage kids. And that includes sexually transmitted infections, STD testing and treatment, and HIV. When teens are well-informed, they are more cautious about sex and more respectful of themselves and others.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends checking their website for screening guidelines and recommendations that parents can check to know if their kids should get tested. In the United States:
- all states allow teenagers 13 years old and above to get tested for STDs on their own
- 18 states allow doctors to inform parents about it if they deem it necessary
- only 1 state requires doctors to inform parents in case a teenage patient would test positive for HIV
What If My Minor Gets STD Testing Done Without My Permission?
At Statcare, as per New York State Law, minors are able to get certain sexual and reproductive health services, including STD/HIV testing and STD treatment, without their parent’s or guardian’s consent. Strict confidentiality under The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) applies to a teenager’s Sexually Transmitted Infections (STI’s) and their treatment. However, if your minor specifically indicates that they want their parent contacted, Statcare staff will do so.
How Common is Teen STD?
Sexually transmitted diseases are very common, especially among the youth. Every year, almost half of the infected population are between the ages of 15 and 24 years old. However, not everyone is aware that they have one because most sexually transmitted infections do not show signs or symptoms. But why are younger people more at risk of acquiring STDs?
- Teenage girls are more prone biologically
- They are not informed well enough about STDs and STD tests
- Many teens will not disclose their sexual activities to doctors or nurses
- Teens tend to be curious and adventurous, thus, may possibly have multiple sex partners
- They have no insurance and may not afford STD testing and treatment
The Importance of STD Testing and Treatment
STDs have a long-lasting effect on people. If teens get tested immediately, infections caused by unprotected sexual contact can be immediately addressed and treated before they become worse. Some STDs, like chlamydia and gonorrhea, require prescription drugs, and some STDs, such as herpes and HIV, are incurable but may be relieved with prescription medications.
To avoid having a permanent medical issue with reproductive health, especially with teenage girls, any sex-related infection must be dealt with. It will also be a good learning experience for the youth to protect themselves if they are unable to abstain from any sexual activity.
Getting Tested in STD Clinics and Urgent Care Centers
Adolescence is probably the most vulnerable phase in a human being’s life. It is but natural for teens to be hesitant to get tested for STDs. Fortunately, there are teen-friendly health care facilities, such as Statcare and Planned Parenthood, that offer discreet and confidential lab testing.
You can use the STD Testing Locator to search for testing clinics or convenient care centers by zip code, city, or state. While home test kits are available in drugstores and pharmacies, results are more accurate in a healthcare facility. Also, a complete STD check often includes a test for HIV and there is no home testing kit for that.
Make sure to be prepared, whether you are going with your children or not. Don’t forget to ask ‘how much does an std test cost at urgent care or clinic’ and if your health insurance will cover the expenses. It is also important for teens to know how the test is performed and if it will require a urine sample or a blood test. Teenagers would be glad to know that test results can be viewed online for extra convenience and confidentiality.
What Can Parents Do to Help Their Teenage Kids?
Teenagers would be more at ease if they are able to tell their parents and get the support they need.
- Be supportive about getting tested and treated for STDs. You can help your adolescents by helping them find a reliable testing location and making sure that they follow up with their doctors.
- Educate them about the importance of safe sex and sexual health. If they feel uncomfortable hearing it from you, bring them to a healthcare professional or sex educator for proper orientation.
- Spend more time with your children and get involved in fun and recreational activities together. The bond you share will make it easier for you to talk about more personal issues and your teens will be able to build their trust and confidence in you.
- If your adolescent starts to open up to you, make sure that you are mentally and emotionally prepared if they ask sex-related questions. Stay informed and seek up-to-date information to make sure that you are providing relevant and accurate answers.
- Do not hesitate to ask for professional assistance. Most healthcare providers are more than willing to explain STD tests and treatment to you and your teenage son or daughter.
- Avoid making harsh comments to your child. Their hormone levels are fluctuating and it is natural for them to be curious about sex.
Parents play a huge role in helping teenagers understand sexual health and be aware of how to stay safe and healthy. Discuss with your spouse and devise a plan that best suits you and your child. If you are a single parent, seek the help of a family member or friend but make sure to maintain confidentiality.