There are ways to prevent sexually transmitted infections (STIs), which are sometimes called sexually transmitted diseases, or STDs, but they are still very common, especially among young people. What happens when someone tests positive? Most of the time, if an STI is treated, it will not cause any long term problems, and treatment is available.
Chlamydia and Gonorrhea: Getting tested is the most important step to receiving treatment, since it is possible that one of these infections will not show any symptoms and you might not know you have it. A doctor will prescribe a dose of antibiotics that can cure a chlamydia or gonorrhea infection. You will get the medication at the health center or may bring a prescription to a pharmacy. It’s important to avoid having sex for at least seven days while the antibiotic is working. You may be given medication to bring to your partner(s) or asked to have them come in to get tested as well. If you do have sex during this time, you may not get rid of the infection or you could pass it on if you are with a new partner. After completing the antibiotic, you may be asked to re-test to be sure you have cleared the infection.
Syphilis: A syphilis infection can be cured through an antibiotic shot given by a health care provider. It is still important to take the same precautious as having a chlamydia or gonorrhea infection and keep from having sex until you have received your dose of antibiotics.
Herpes: Herpes is not a curable STI. Once you have it, you have it for life. There are medicines available from a doctor or health center to help heal sores and to help reduce your partners’ risk of contracting it as well. In general, herpes is not very dangerous. But, having herpes can increase your likelihood of getting HIV if you are exposed. It can also be passed to a baby during birth but if a woman who has herpes becomes pregnant, she can work with her doctor to help protect her baby.
HIV (AIDS): There is also no cure for HIV. Once someone has HIV, there are medications available to help slow down the progression of HIV, but the virus will remain in the body. There are medications called PrEP (pre-exposure prophylaxis) that a person at very high risk of HIV can take to prevent them from getting HIV. There is also a medication called PEP (post-exposure prophylaxis) that someone can take up to 72 hours after being exposed to HIV.
HPV: Most of the time HPV will go away on its own. If it does not, there is no cure for it. HPV can cause warts and some types of cancer. The warts will go away on their own or can be removed by a doctor but you may still have HPV and be able to spread it to your partner. There is a vaccine that helps protect against many strains of HPV. People under 26 years old can get the vaccine from a clinic or health care provider.
If you receive a positive STI test, it is very important to tell your current or previous partner(s) about it so they can also get tested and if necessary, treated. This may be an uncomfortable and difficult conversation, but it is needed to protect their health and keep the infection from spreading to others.
If you choose to have sex, condoms are the best method to prevent against STIs. Find FREE condoms!
Learn more about each of these STIs and others like Trichomoniasis and Hepatitis B on teensource.org
Find a clinic here to get tested. Remember, many STIs do NOT show any symptoms. If an STI goes untreated, it can cause more serious health issues, including pelvic inflammatory disease (PID), infertility, and some types of cancer.