The federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends HIV tests for all sexually active adults and pregnant women. Urine tests are available now for chlamydia and gonorrhea, making testing easier than ever before. Some doctors recommend regular testing for both infections if you fall into one of a few high-risk groups, but anyone can request these tests.
According to a 2006 CDC surveillance report, young people ages 15 to 24 represent just 25% of the sexually active population but they also represented almost 50% of new STD cases that year. "Young people ought to get tested once a year for HIV, syphilis, chlamydia, and gonorrhea," says H. Hunter Handsfield, MD, a clinical professor of medicine at the University of Washington and a nationally recognized STD expert who has helped develop HIV testing guidelines for the CDC.
If you're a man who has sex only with women
Most doctors don't test heterosexual men for STDs other than HIV unless they have symptoms. That's partly because women get more severe health problems from HPV and chlamydia, and also because until recently STD tests have involved painful swabbing.
Testing for HIV and syphilis is especially important in this group because there are high rates of both infections among the men you're likely to have as partners. Depending on the number of partners you have, you may need to consider screenings more than once a year, says Dr. Handsfield.
In addition to getting tested for HIV, all women should get annual Pap smears to make sure there are no (potentially precancerous) abnormalities in the cells of the cervix, possibly caused by HPV.