Anyone who is sexually active should be tested for sexually transmitted diseases (abbreviated “SPB” in Croatian) periodically to prevent the spread of disease. While in the developed part of the world it is quite normal to test for STDs, Croatians don’t do this as often or at all, posing a huge risk to public health.
Why don’t people in Croatia get tested?
Believe or not, but doctors try to talk patients out of getting tested here. THIS IS TRUE. They tell patients it is too expensive, which is a BIG FAT LIE. Most STD tests are free if you have national health insurance. An HIV test is 450kn without insurance, but is only 50kn with national health insurance (which you already have if you live in Croatia). HPV tests are completely FREE. Some NGOs even offer free HIV testing.
As Croatia is a predominantly Catholic country, abstinence is promoted over the use of contraceptives and condoms. The lack of education on the importance of safe sex may not exist, but that doesn’t prevent those same people from having unsafe sex leading to unplanned pregnancies and the spread of sexually-transmitted disease.
Lack of education
Since there is a push for abstinence, there is a lack of education on how to have safe sex, how to know if you may have an STD or what to do when you have an STD. Many STDs do not show symptoms. During this time, you can still infect others. Education is power and prevents disease.
The importance of getting tested for STDs
There is no such thing as 100% safe sex. Even kissing, which most people do not consider to be a risky act, can be a means of transferring syphilis, herpes, chlamydia and gonorrhea. When it comes to testing, anonymous at home STD test options are possible, however results do rely on the user’s ability to correctly collect the required sample, so if you are unsure, it’s recommended to visit a listed clinic and get tested.
Testing for STDs is especially recommended in the following situations:
- When you start a new relationship – Testing at the start of a new relationship protects both your partner and yourself.
- When you end a relationship
- If you are planning a pregnancy – It is recommended that you test for STDs because the absence of any symptoms does not mean that you are not infected. For example, Hepatitis B and C, Herpes and HIV may be transmitted from the mother to the baby during delivery and breastfeeding.
- If you have unprotected sexual intercourse with an unknown person, it is extremely important to test for STDs.
- If you have noticed symptoms of STDs, such as an unpleasant smell of the genitals, discharge, or itching, go to the doctor immediately and take along your partner with you so that you both can be tested and treated.
How STD testing is conducted
One of the reasons why sexually active people do not go to STD testing is the way the testing is conducted. STDs can be tested for in several different ways. Women tend to fear cervix swab, while men fear the urethral swab. Other testing methods are throat and rectal swabs, testing blood samples, and urine samples. However, if you do have an STD, it will be a lot more uncomfortable than any swab will be.
- For women, the cervical swab is mostly taken by a gynecologist and is similar to a pap smear. With this method, a doctor can check for the presence of chlamydia, ureaplasma, mycoplasma, gonorrhea, syphilis, and HPV.
- For men, the urinary tract swab is inserted into the urethra up to about 2 centimeters in depth and lightly rotated and left in the urethra for at least 2 seconds. Urethra swabs are an important step in the diagnosis of chlamydia, gonorrhea, HPV, mycoplasma, ureaplasma and trihomonas.
- The pharynx swab is taken so that the spatula slightly depresses the base of the tongue to show the back side of the pharynx. Then, with the wipe, the back of the pharynx, the palate arches and the area of the toner are wiped firmly. If a patient says “a”, he will reduce the urge to vomit. Chlamydia, HPV and gonorrhea can be detected with this method.
- At the base of the rectum, the stick is placed 2.5 cm behind the anal sphincter and gently rotated. The remains of the stool must be visible on the swab stick. From the rectum swab, it is possible to perform tests for gonorrhea and chlamydia.
- When taking a urine sample for bacteriological tests, the first morning urine should be taken. Before taking the urine sample, it is necessary to wash the external parts of genitals with warm water and soap and dry with a paper tissue. From the urine it is possible to test for mycoplasma, ureaplasma and chlamydia.
- HIV and HPV can be tested with a simple blood test.
If you have ever been sexually active and have never been tested, GET TESTED.
If you are sexually active now, GET TESTED.
Where to get tested for STDs in Croatia
Click here to view a complete list of all the state facilities where you can get STD testing in the major cities around Croatia.