I know the basics, but how can I find out more detail about my personal STI risk so that I can make informed decisions?
, the CDC
and others have great information about what STIs are out there, their consequences, treatment and how they can be tested for.
What I want to know, but can't find, falls into three general categories:
- For different infections, what are the risks of transmission for different kinds of sexual contact (i.e., vaginal, anal, manual, cunnilingus, fellatio all w/ or w/o barriers)?
- As a function of time within the incubation period range, how likely is a false negative?
- What are the sensitivity and specificity of the different test procedures?
I have found a bit of information for #1. For instance, Planned Parenthood
says: "Giving or getting gonorrhea during oral sex is rare, but you can further reduce your risk by using condoms or latex or plastic barriers." But it doesn't quantify how much rarer it is via oral or oral with barriers or where that information comes from.
For #2 and #3, I haven't found any information. I got a great handout from Planned Parenthood that lists the incubation period for different STIs (not on the website, sadly). However, some of the infections I'm most concerned about have really broad incubation periods: 2–12 weeks for HIV and 2–16 weeks for herpes. I'd like to know if there's any information about the accuracy of testing during
the incubation period. For instance, if I am tested for HIV 8 weeks after my last sexual contact, is that meaningless, or can I assume some % of certainty? Furthermore, these tests are not perfect even beyond the incubation period, but I can't find any data about how accurate they actually are
I suppose it's possible that this information just doesn't exist. Maybe the studies haven't been done. But if it is out there, I'd really like to know and be able to read the data myself.