Sexually transmitted infections (STIs) are prevalent in sexually active persons, with more new cases diagnosed every year. About half of new STI diagnoses occur in people between 15 – 24 years.
If you think you have gotten an STI, you need to take certain steps to protect yourself and others. STIs are usually asymptomatic, so the only way to determine if you have an STI is to get an STI test in London. Knowing your STI status is the initial step to help you get treatment and prevent transmitting the infection to others.
Here are important things you should do if you think you have gotten an STI
Start engaging in safer sex
It is your responsibility to protect yourself and your partner from further infections if you think you have contracted an STI. You will have to talk to your partner about the possibility of having an STI, abstaining from sex until you are sure of your status and getting tested.
If abstinence isn’t a feasible option, consider practising safer sex. However, safer sex doesn’t guarantee your partner’s protection. Some STDs like human papillomavirus (HPV) and herpes simplex virus (HSV) can spread through direct skin contact, meaning barriers like condoms are not effective in their prevention. Using a barrier method will only reduce the risk of transmitting the infection.
Having no symptoms does not guarantee you don’t have an STI. Many STIs do not present symptoms, so the best way to know you have an STI is to get tested. It is better to confirm if you have an STI than think you might have it.
To determine if you have an STI, you need to visit your healthcare provider or STI testing clinic. When you are at the clinic:
- Inform the healthcare professional why you think you have contracted an STI. For example, if a former partner contacted you that they have STI symptoms.
- Inform the healthcare provider when you think you were exposed to the STI.
- If you previously got tested, inform the provider of the last test date.
The turnaround time for many STI tests is several weeks. You also have to consider the window period. This is the period between exposure and when the test will read positive if the STI is present. If you get tested within the window period, you may have a false-negative result.
STIs, like HIV, can be detected through antibodies, so if you’ve had exposure to it, your healthcare provider may inform you to comeback later to repeat the test. For example, HIV tests, even the newest options, require at least 15 – 29 days after exposure to give an accurate result because the antibodies take a while to accumulate in the blood to detectable levels.
Start your treatment and complete it
Completing your prescribed treatment is important if you have a bacterial STI, even when you already feel better. If you do not take your antibiotics, the risk of developing an antibiotic-resistant infection increases and these infections are more difficult to treat.
The rate of antibiotic resistance is rapidly increasing. Presently, six antibiotics recommended in the past are resistant to gonorrhoea. The antibiotics include:
- Early-generation cephalosporins
If your result shows an incurable viral STI such as HSV, HPV or HIV, consult your healthcare provider for the best options to manage the infection. Managing the infection helps to reduce the risk of transmitting the virus to others.
If you have these STIs, you can still be sexually active, but management is vital.
Discuss your diagnosis with your partner
If your result is positive for an STI, ensure you inform your current partners that they may have had exposure to it. You also need to contact recent partners even if you no longer have sex with them.
Informing your former partners may be difficult, but you can opt for an online service that allows you to send a message to your partner anonymously.
Some STIs are notifiable, meaning your provider is mandated by the law to inform your partners about possible exposure to the STD. They can inform your partner without including your name. some notifiable STIs include:
- Hepatitis B
- Hepatitis C
If you need to visit a sexual health clinic in London for an STI test because you think you have contracted an STI, contact STI Clinic London. You can call 020 7183 0649 to schedule an appointment.