Taking Charge of Your Health
You can reduce your chances of contracting or transmitting an STI (Sexually Transmitted Infections) or STD (Sexually Transmitted Disease) by practicing safer sex through the use of barrier methods such as condoms and dental dams, getting tested regularly, testing in between sexual partners, and having open communication about sex with your partner(s). To learn more, visit Planned Parenthood.
Why Should I Get Tested?
STIs are usually asymptomatic, meaning they don’t show symptoms, making it easy for STIs to go undetected. If past sexual partner(s) of yours have had an STI, you are at more risk for infection as well as putting future partner(s) at risk. Regular testing protects your health and the health of those you have sex with.
When Should I Get Tested?
The CDC offers some guidelines for certain populations. It is also important to consider getting tested with each new sexual partner, if you’ve had unprotected sex, or if a partner you’ve had sex with has an STI.
Where Can I Get Tested?
Here are some places to get tested:
- Make an appointment with your physician
- Make an appointment with Student Health Services
- San Francisco AIDS Foundation offers STI/HIV testing for free
- Find a clinic near you at gettested.cdc.gov
I Tested Positive. What Now?
If you test positive for an STI, know you’re not alone. By age 25, one in two sexually active people will contract an STI. Many can be cured with antibiotics and others can be treated effectively over time. Collaborate with your doctor about continued testing, treatment plans, and barrier methods for safer sex.
Here are a few things to consider after testing positive:
1. Be Informed. Talk with a physician about your STI, medications, and treatment(s) available, and prevention options to protect your health and partner’s health.
2. Find Support. Don’t feel you have to handle everything on your own. Talk to a trusted person or persons, a therapist, or check local organizations about STI support groups.
Here are some resources to check out:
- SFAF: HIV & Hepatitis C support groups
- Bay Area Friends: Social & support group for those with herpes
- The STI Project: Lists of different HIV, Herpes, HPV, & Hepatitis Support Groups
3. Having the Talk. Talking about positive test results to past, current, or future sexual partners can be an emotional process. However, to protect your health and your partners’, sharing your positive status is important for past and current partners to make the choice to be tested themselves, and have open conversations about safer sex options with current and future partners.
For help on starting the conversation, check beforeplay.org's recommendations.