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The stigma that goes along with having an STD only adds to the feelings of shame and embarrassment rape victims can feel. However it is vital that after an attack that you get tested so appropriate action can be taken as soon as possible to mitigate the effects of or treat any infections that may have been passed along. There are no recent studies to show statistics, but studies from the 90’s show that as many as 1 in 15 victims of rape contract an STD as a result of their attack.

How do STD tests work?

You can and will be tested for STDs in the emergency room, but its important to remember these tests will only tell you if you had an STD going in, not if you contracted one from your attack. The good news is that many types of STD infection can be prevented by antibiotics if administered early enough. You will be given these antibiotics before you leave the emergency room. As the signs and symptoms of STDs may take some time to show themselves, the CDC recommends getting tested 2, 6, 12, and 24 weeks after an assault to make sure any infections are caught early, and thus are easier to treat

There are different tests for different STDs, but in general, you can expect the doctor to take:

  • A blood sample drawn with a syringe or a finger prick

  • A urine sample

  • A swab of the inside of the mouth

  • A swab from the genitals (urethra for men, cervix for women)

HIV

HIV is treated differently than any other STD, in that testing for it can be done anonymously. Like any STD, though, being tested immediately will only tell you your status before the attack. You’ll want to seek out a clinic that offers anonymous testing within 3 to 6 months of your attack. The procedure is a simple blood test, and results can be available anywhere from 24 hours to a few weeks after the test.

There are obviously a litany of issues to be dealt with following a rape, but taking care of your physical health is just as important as taking care of your emotional and psychological health. You will find that people who do STD testing are generally a caring and understanding bunch, they do that for a living after all. No one would suggest that taking care of these issues after a rape is easy, but you will not regret proactively taking these issues on.

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1 comment

  1. pinky

    I’m so glad to see you mention the need for testing weeks after the attack, also. I feel like, even those who do have the courage to ask for one, usually just do so immediately after and don’t realize that some diseases take some time to show up in the body. And usually, these that have that time lag, are often the most serious of all. Great advice, Callie.