A survey of more than 14,000 young adults showed that 10 percent who had a laboratory-confirmed STD result reported not having had intercourse for the past year, and 6 percent claimed that they had never had intercourse, according to the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent Health. These contradicting claims show how unreliable self-reporting can be. If accurate results are sought, the only reliable method is through laboratory testing.
STD diagnostic testing is the only surefire way that STDs can be reliably reported and determined. While symptoms may be a good indicator that an individual should abstain from intercourse and get tested, they are not a way to diagnose an infection. Using one’s sexual history is also no substitute for getting tested. While there are many indicators that may prompt a need for testing, they do not indicate a lack or presence of an infection. Some individuals who have had contact with infected partners may be STD-free and others who believe their partners were clean may have been infected - or even were infected through sharing needles.