Special Report

24 Medical Tests Every Man Should Have and When

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1. Diabetes
> When to get tested: 45 and over every 3 years

About 10.5% of the U.S. population has diabetes — that’s more than 34 million Americans, according to the American Diabetes Association. Another 7.3 million don’t know they have the condition, which if left uncontrolled can lead to blindness, kidney failure, limb amputation, and cardiovascular disease. One in three adults have prediabetes, and most are not aware or have never been told they have the condition. Men are more likely than women to develop type 2 diabetes, because they tend to accumulate fat around the liver and waist.

There are several blood sugar tests that can confirm a diabetes diagnosis. The standard test for the illness is the glycated hemoglobin (A1C) test, which measures the average blood sugar levels over a period of two to three months. Screening is recommended at three-year intervals beginning at age 45, unless a person is at higher risk for diabetes because they are overweight, have a family history of the condition, or do not exercise.

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2. HIV
> When to get tested: Between 13 and 64

About 1.1 million people in the United States have HIV (the human immunodeficiency virus), but about 14% of them — more than 162,000 people — are unaware of their status, according to the CDC. Nearly 40% of new infections are transmitted by HIV-positive people who don’t know they carry the virus. HIV is usually transmitted through unprotected sex or sharing needles.

Several lab and home tests are available. The Food and Drug Administration recommends blood antibody/antigen combination tests because tests checking only for antibodies can produce false negatives. Antibodies take up to eight weeks to develop after exposure to the virus. The CDC recommends people between 13 and 64 to get tested at least once in their lifetime for HIV. Those at higher risk, like people who engage in unroptected sex or share needles, need to be tested often. The CDC also notes that sexually active gay and bisexual men, should get tested every three to six months.

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3. Other STDs and STIs
> When to get tested: Once a year

The numbers of sexually transmitted diseases in the United States increased for a fifth year in a row in 2018, reaching all-time highs, according to the CDC. Half of all new sexually transmitted infections (STIs) that occur every year nationwide are among young people aged 15-24.

Two of the most common STDs in both men and women are chlamydia and gonorrhea. The rate of reported chlamydia cases among men has increased every year between 2000 and 2018, except between 2012 and 2013 when the rate was stable. There are several tests used to detect infectious diseases, including using a blood or a urine sample or a swab from the genitals.

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4. Hepatitis C
> When to get tested: People born between 1945 and 1965

Men are slightly more likely than women to have hepatitis C, a viral infection that damages the liver, or develop severe side effects as a result of the disease. Hepatitis C spreads through the blood of an infected person. People sharing needles or getting tattoos or piercing with unsanitary equipment are at higher risk. More than 3 million people in the country have hepatitis C, but most don’t have any symptoms and don’t know they are infected. About 17,000 new cases are diagnosed every year. If left untreated, the infection can lead to cirrhosis, liver cancer, or death.

The CDC recommends hepatitis C screening, which consists of a simple blood test, at least once for all adults as well as for all people who have HIV or have undergone certain medical procedures. Everyone born between 1945 and 1965 — the baby boomers — should get tested for hepatitis C. More than 75% of Americans living with the condition are baby boomers, according to the American Liver Foundation.

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5. Cholesterol
> When to get tested: Every 4 to 6 years after 20

There are two main types of cholesterol — the good, or HDL cholesterol, and the bad, or LDL cholesterol. A simple blood test can measure the level of each type of the fat-like substance found in a person’s blood and every cell of the body. High LDL levels are dangerous as they may lead to plaque build-up in the arteries, which can block blood flow, increasing the risk of a heart attack and stroke. High cholesterol levels usually show no symptoms.

The American Heart Association recommends that everyone over the age of 20 should have their cholesterol checked every four to six years. More frequent testing may be needed for people who are at higher risk for developing heart disease, including those who are overweight, have diabetes, smoke, and are physically inactive.