I have an STI–Now what?

It starts with sex–it always does, doesn’t it? 

Next is the test–just to be responsible. 

And the result is… positive. 

Wait, what?

A positive Sexually Transmitted Infection diagnosis is nothing short of confusing. You are probably feeling more things at once than you thought possible–disbelief, embarrassment, confusion, anxiety. And your first question will most likely be, now what? 

Well, you’re not alone! According to the CDC Atlas Plus database, in 2019, almost 7,600 other Delawareans also asked, “Now what?” after a positive diagnosis for Chlamydia, Gonorrhea, or Syphilis. And 4,620 of those were ages 15-24 (that’s 60% of those infected!)

So to help you navigate this development, here are four steps you should take after receiving a positive STI diagnosis.

  1. Seek Education and a Treatment Plan

This one may seem obvious but getting the treatment you need quickly is your first and most important step. Untreated STIs can lead to long-term complications such as liver damage, nervous system damage, or infertility. So take a moment, and a breath, and get in touch with your doctor or healthcare professional. Need help finding a testing location and treatment center in Delaware? Click here to find a clinic near you.

Don’t be afraid to be curious about your diagnosis. Ask what the next steps are–is this a curable infection or long-term? What does that mean for you going forward? What type of treatment is used for your infection? You’ll be relieved to learn that most infections are manageable, if not curable. Being well-armed with good information and proper protocols will help you take control of this situation, and prevent you from spreading STIs to others.

2. Tell Your Partner(s)

Awkward? Maybe. Necessary? 100%, no doubt, this is a MUST DO. Remember, several STIs have no symptoms or delayed symptoms. So waiting to tell your partner because you haven’t seen or felt anything wouldn’t be fair to them and could contribute to continuing the spread of an STI. The best way to approach this is to make sure you have your facts straight and understand your diagnosis (re: Step 1). The more information you have for yourself, the more confident you will be speaking to a partner about it. And if you still need some guidance on approaching the topic, check out this video from Planned Parenthood: How to Tell Someone You Have an STD. You can even tell your partners anonymously if it feels too overwhelming to do it yourself. Services such as TellYourParnter.Org offer a free texting service to notify your partners of their potential exposure to an STI. You should notify not only your current partner but also any partners you’ve had over the last three months to one year.

3. Make your Mental and Physical Health a Priority

It’s time to start practicing more self-care. And you’re off to a great start by choosing to get tested and communicating with your partners. You also need to prioritize your mental and physical health. If you are struggling with your positive diagnosis, seek out help either through counseling or support groups. No need to go it alone because you are not alone! Delaware has you covered with mental health resources such as the Mental Health Association in Delaware and Black Brown Delaware Therapists.

You can add to your mental well-being by incorporating a routine of regular sleep, exercise, and balanced nutrition. Your body will thank you and your STI will become much more manageable

4. Test, Re-test, and Use Prevention

Finally, you need to make testing and prevention methods part of your sex plan going forward. For infections that can be treated and cured (like Chlamydia and Gonorrhea) the CDC recommends getting re-tested three months after your diagnosis. This ensures you are not re-infected and/or still spreading the infection.

Using condoms, getting STI tested, and talking with your partners about your sexual history BEFORE having sex helps to #ErasetheSTIgma and #StopSTIs in Delaware.

You got a diagnosis you weren’t planning for, but now you have a plan to deal with it! 

Taking control of your sex life helps to #ErasetheSTIgma and show that sex can be fun and healthy. So stay informed Delaware, and follow Erase the STIgma on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter. To read our other blogs, click here.

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