Updated: April 30, 2021 Reviewed by Adel Karsou, clinical lab scientist
According to the Texas STD Surveillance Report published in 2018, the number of reported STDs across the state and in Travis County, where Austin is located, is on the rise. Overall, Austin had the fourth-highest number of STD cases in the state, with the three most common STDs being chlamydia, gonorrhea, and syphilis.
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Testing for STDs at home is safe, convenient, and private. Performed regularly, it can help you stay healthy and avoid unknowingly transmitting STDs.
You have many options for at-home STD testing. The best at-home STD tests are FDA approved and evaluated for safety and accuracy with fast result turnaround times and support from health care professionals.
At-home STD testing kits should include instructions for collection and test registration, along with materials such as containers and swabs to collect and send your sample to the lab. Most at-home STD tests offer results in about five days through a secure online patient portal.
The three most common STDs reported in Austin are chlamydia, gonorrhea, and syphilis. According to an STD report from the CDC in 2020, Austin ranks among cities with the highest rate of STDs in the country.
Chlamydia is commonly diagnosed in young people, with nearly two-thirds of new infections in the nation occurring in individuals between the ages of 15 and 24. In Texas, the rate of reported cases in 2018 dropped by 1% compared to 2017, but it increased in Travis County by nearly 3%. However, it’s estimated that because a large number of chlamydia cases are asymptomatic and persons who are infected don’t seek treatment, the actual number of cases may be significantly higher.
Reported Chlamydia Cases in Texas, 2011-2018
In Travis County, the number of gonorrhea cases reported between 2011 and 2018 increased by over 130%, from 1,482 to 3,423. In the state, the rate of gonorrhea during this time period increased by 10% among females but by over 67% among males. About 80% of individuals diagnosed with gonorrhea in 2018 were between the ages of 15 and 34.
Gonorrhea Rates in Texas by Age Group, 2018
In 2018, a total of 12,900 cases of syphilis were reported in Texas, which was an increase of about 109% over the number of cases reported in 2011. While any sexually active person can contract syphilis, men and ethnic minorities are disproportionately affected. In Travis County, the rate of syphilis per 100,000 residents is 63.4, compared to the statewide rate of 44.9.
Oftentimes, STDs have no symptoms, and being tested is the only way for someone to know if he or she has one. Undiagnosed STDs can have serious long-term consequences, such as infertility, cancer, secondary infections, and even early death. Fortunately, Austin residents have easy access to numerous free and low-cost STD testing centers.
Sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) remain one of the most critical public health challenges facing the United States, with approximately 26 million new STD infections occurring every year. Nearly half of these new infections affect young people ages 15 to 24.
Community-based organizations are a vital first line of defense in the fight against STDs and HIV/AIDS in particular. They generate awareness and foster social change while providing access to testing and treatment.
You may not be aware of all the STD resources available in Austin that can help prevent the spread of STDs. Get connected with these community organizations that are leading the fight against STDs and HIV/AIDS with resources and support:
Austin Public Health – Sexual Health Clinic
Austin’s Public Health Department operates several sexual health centers where clients can receive counseling, testing, and treatment for common STDs and infections, such as chlamydia, gonorrhea, HIV, trichomoniasis, and syphilis. Case management is provided to clients who are homeless, pregnant, under 13 years old, or are at high risk of contracting HIV. Counseling services are free, and physical examinations and testing are available for a very small fee. The center is open on weekdays,8 a.m. – 5 p.m. To schedule an appointment, clients must call the clinic.
Planned Parenthood operates several clinics in the Austin area, including the North Austin Health Center. Clients can receive a wide range of sexual health and reproductive services, including access to birth control, general health care, cancer screenings, and STD testing and treatment. STD testing may include a blood test, a physical examination, cheek or throat swabs, urine tests, or testing the sores, and test results come back to the lab within a few days to a few weeks. This center accepts most major health insurance plans, and clients without insurance may qualify for low-cost or free services. Clients should visit the clinic’s website or call to schedule an appointment. The North Austin clinic is open Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, and Friday, 8 a.m. – 4:30 p.m. and Wednesday, 9 a.m. – 4:30 p.m.
AIDS Services of Austin offers free and confidential testing for HIV, syphilis, chlamydia, gonorrhea, and hepatitis C, along with counseling and referrals for community resources and medical care. The center also has special programming for adults ages 18-29 in the LGBTQ community that includes education on STD prevention and PrEP/PEP services for individuals who may have been exposed to HIV. The clinic is open Monday and Wednesday, 9 a.m. – 5 p.m.; Tuesday and Thursday, 12 – 8 p.m.; Friday, 1 – 5 p.m.; and the first and third Saturday of the month, 12 – 3 p.m. Clients do not need to make an appointment for testing.
1023 Springdale Road, Building 14, Suite A Austin, TX 78721 512-600-8378 Asaustin.org
Lone Star Circle of Care
Lone Star Circle of Care is a nonprofit community health center that provides primary and behavioral health care services for all patients, including individuals without health insurance or the ability to pay for services. The center provides confidential STD counseling, testing, and treatment for adolescents and young adults ages 11-22 years and pregnant women. Appointments can be scheduled through the online patient portal or by calling during regular business hours. Same-day and next-day appointments are usually available. The clinic is open Monday – Friday, 8 a.m. – 8 p.m., and Saturday, 9 a.m. – 1 p.m.
1221 W. Ben White Boulevard, Building B, Suite 200 Austin, TX 78704 877-800-5722 Lscctx.org
ASHWell provides a wide range of sexual health services with no out-of-pocket cost, including HIV testing; PrEP and PEP; HIV treatment; testing and treatment for STDs, STIs, and hepatitis C; and vaccinations. The center also provides holistic therapies to minimize the side effects of medications and chronic illness. It is open Monday, 5 – 7:30 p.m.; Tuesday and Thursday, 1 – 3:30 p.m.; Wednesday, 11 a.m. – 3 p.m. and 5 – 7 p.m., and Friday, 10 a.m. – 1 p.m. This clinic doesn’t accept walk-ins, and clients can schedule an appointment by calling or emailing the clinic.
8101 Cameron Road, Suite #105 Austin, TX 78754 512-467-0088 Ashwellatx.org