Premarital Blood Testing

ThinkstockPhotos-71262097Our parents had to do it. It’s likely that our grandparents had to as well. The premarital blood testing programs began in the mid 1930’s in response to perceived rising rates of STD transmission. High rates of infection caused concern about public health and there was a push by the then-surgeon general, Thomas Parran to educate about STDs. Syphilis was the specific culprit that was causing worry, but German measles and other infectious diseases were on the rise.

Obtaining a Marriage License

One of the methods used to target the spread of these diseases was blood testing. After a reliable test was discovered that could identify current or previous exposure to syphilis, the screening method employed was to require couples applying for a marriage license to undergo blood testing. This provided individuals the chance to pursue treatment for their disease if it was identified.

Why are blood tests for marriage licenses no longer required in every state then? The problem was that these tests turned up only a marginal percent of infected people. Premarital blood testing targeted a low-risk group of individuals for syphilis. Other measures taken to control the spread of STDs such as syphilis were more effective. This lead to states dismissing the requirements as being too costly—up to over two hundred thousand dollars in estimated cost for every identified case—and now only the District of Columbia and Montana require blood testing.

Why Get Blood Tests Today?

If premarital blood testing turned up so few cases and is no longer legally required by the government, do people still get them? Some do. Rh factors, blood types and infectious diseases can all be identified by these blood tests.

Being forewarned is being forearmed. Having a blood test—including HIV testing—allows immediate medical action to be taken. If you’ve been at risk for contracting any infectious disease like hepatitis, HIV, syphilis or others, a blood test can let you take the right steps towards good health. It’s no longer legally required, but it’s still good sense to be tested!