Every person will come into contact with an STI at some point in their lifetime, and although this is a fact for the sexually active, it is a truth that is still shrouded in shame. If you are sexually active and living a healthy life, there is no reason to feel ashamed of coming into contact with a sexually transmitted infection. It happens more often than you think. In fact, most STIs don’t present symptoms within the bodies of those who are carriers, and may never develop into an actual disease. So anyone could be a carrier of a sexually transmitted infection, never display a symptom, never feel sick, and still pass on the infection to another person unconsciously.
This is the nature of the bacteria and viruses that are spread sexually, and we have power and dominion over them. All of the pathogens that cause infections of the genitals can be viewed no differently than the ones that cause the common cold. Your genitals and orifices can play host to a few different infections, but there isn’t any need to worry. All infections are treatable, and most are completely curable.
With a dose of antibiotics, the body’s days of playing host to an STI will be over. The process of testing, receiving a diagnosis and receiving treatment when positive is available at low or no cost for those who are seeking it. That means, even if one doesn’t have insurance or financial means to pay for testing, there are sources to help. Going through the process of testing can be nerve-racking and anxiety-ridden, but knowing what to ask when you are in the midst of testing can help ease anxiety and empower your decisions. When making the decision to take responsibility for your body’s health through testing for STIs, keep these questions on deck to flex your sexual health rights on site.
“What payment is required of me today?”
Feeling anxiety around whether you can afford the tests or medications is one of the major factors that contribute to one’s decision to not get tested. Having the answer to this question is essential to your decision-making process for STI testing. Doing a quick search online for testing clinics in your area that are free or low cost will bring up a number of places. Calling ahead or checking out the clinic’s website (if available) can also give you the answers you need to feel less anxious. When arriving at the clinic of choice, asking about payment and billing helps to reassure your decision to get tested.
“What types of tests are required and what are we testing for?”
Knowing which screening tests will be run and how they will be administered can help release any fear around not having a comprehensive test. Knowing where the practitioner will access your body can help you prepare for the type of test that will be completed. Blood tests are required to screen for HIV, syphilis and hepatitis. Urine tests and swabs screen for chlamydia, gonorrhea and trichomoniasis. Swabbing of the throat and anus are required to check for infections in these areas. If you are receiving anal sex or performing oral sex, ask for swabs in these areas to ensure you are getting a complete test.
“If I test positive for anything, how will I be treated?”
Having the security of knowing that anything can be treated right away if a positive status is determined during testing is comforting. There isn’t any reason to feel fear about being left alone to deal with an infection if one is present. Solutions are plentiful. Asking how any one infection will be treated empowers you with knowledge not only for yourself, but to pass on to partners who may have been exposed to infection. Being hip to how these infections are treated and the types of treatments available also gives you the power of decision over how you flex your sexual health.
“How will my test results be used after this appointment?”
Being aware of how your test results will be treated after testing is important to your well being and sanity. Health care providers are not allowed to give your information to anyone without your consent or use your results to sell to third parties. Reporting the results of testing to state and federal health departments is a requirement for all health care providers in practice, and knowing how your personal information is used reduces the fear of other people knowing your health status without your consent.
“Is there a way to receive support after a positive diagnosis?”
Receiving a positive response to an STI test can be jarring, but you’re not alone. Everyone who finds out their bodies have played host to an infection feel triggered from the first announcement of positive. You don’t have to process your emotions and feelings alone either. There is in clinic support staff to assist you and hotlines and support groups that can also be of assistance to your processing. Ask your health care provider for the options that are available to you in clinic and in the neighborhood if you are seeking a community of people who can relate to your situation. You’ll be all the better for it.
“When should I test again?”
Testing regularly is recommended, especially if a positive status was confirmed. Testing more often is recommended when sexual activity is more frequent and with different partners. Asking your doctor about the frequency of your testing will help you to maintain a steady testing schedule depending on your lifestyle.