“Your test came back positive.” It’s something no one wants to hear when it comes to STDs. But if you’re facing the news, it doesn’t have to be an “oh no” moment. Having an STD doesn’t keep you from being a sexually healthy person or making sexually healthy decisions. In fact, if you are testing for STDs and talking about sex with your doctor you are already on the right track.
If you test positive for an STD, there are some easy steps you can take to protect yourself and your partners.
1. Get the right treatment
First, make sure you get treated. Most STDs are pretty easy to treat. This can be as simple as taking a pill or two. However, some STDs can’t be cured, so talk to your doctor about your options for keeping yourself and your partners safe.
2. Use condoms
If you are having sex, condoms are your best bet for preventing STDs. Condoms have come a long way in recent years. There are many sizes, shapes and textures, so try some and figure out what works best for you and your partners.
3. Test, test, test
Keep getting tested regularly. You already know how important this is. Often, STDs don’t show any signs or symptoms, so you probably won’t know if you have one unless you get a test. You might have to remind your health care provider — they won’t always ask — but if you are sexually active, you should be getting tested regularly.
4. Start the conversation
Finally, talk about sex. Being open with your partner about staying safe and getting tested is important for healthy relationships and your sexual health.
No matter your age, race or gender, if you are having sex, you are at risk for an STD. In the United States, that risk is increasing. The three reportable STDs — chlamydia, gonorrhea and syphilis — are at all-time highs, and rates continue to grow each year. Some of the more frightening implications include increasing numbers of babies being born with syphilis, and the looming threat that gonorrhea will develop resistance to all antibiotics and become untreatable.
It’s now more important than ever to know your STD status.
Matt Prior, Director, Communications, National Coalition of STD Directors, [email protected]