for Veterans and the Public
Sexually Transmitted Infections
Sexual health is an important part of your overall health and well-being. Being sexually healthy includes taking care of yourself and your partners.
VA providers regularly ask all patients about their sexual health history to help Veterans achieve their sexual health goals. VA offers a range of sexual health services that include screenings to detect and treat any problems early, and prevention resources.
How do I know if I'm at risk?
Your provider may recommend testing for sexually transmitted infections (STIs) like syphilis, gonorrhea, chlamydia, hepatitis and HPV, even if you don't have any symptoms. Also, it is recommended that all adults get tested for HIV at least once, and more regularly if you are at risk.
Think about your sexually relationships and experiences:
- Have you had unprotected anal, vaginal, or oral sex (sex without a condom)?
- Do you have multiple sex partners
- Do you have anonymous sex partners or partners you don't know?
- Do you have sex while drunk or high, which can lower inhibitions and result in greater sexual risk-taking?
- Have you recently had an STI like gonorrhea, chlamydia, or syphilis?
- Do you exchange sex for money, drugs, food, or a place to stay?
- Do you have a partner who would answer "yes" to any of the above questions?
Talk to your provider about STI testing and prevention if any of these is true for you.
What can I do to prevent STIs?
In addition to testing, your provider will teach you the best ways to prevent STIs. If you are sexually active, you can lower your chances of getting STIs, including HIV, by:
- Getting tested for STIs regularly and asking your partner(s) whether they have been tested.
- Using a new lubricated condom, consistently and correctly, for every act of vaginal, anal, and oral sex throughout the entire sex act (from start to finish).
- Reducing the number of people with whom you have sex.
- Limiting or stopping drug and alcohol use before and during sex.
- Talking to your provider about pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) to prevent HIV infection.
- Getting vaccinated against HPV, hepatitis A, and hepatitis B, if it is recommended by your health care provider.