If you’ve been diagnosed with a sexually transmissible infection (STI), you might be feeling a bit overwhelmed, worried or unsure about what’s next.
It might seem scary but getting an STI is not the end of the world. In fact, 4 million people in Australia will get an STI at some point in their life.
The good news is that most STIs are treatable and if managed correctly they shouldn’t cause any long-term health issues.
If you’re diagnosed with a sexually transmissible infection (STI), you’ll need to do four things:
If you’ve been diagnosed with an STI, your doctor will talk you through any treatment and/or management options. Some common STI treatments include:
How quickly you can start having sex again after starting treatment for an STI will vary depending on the STI and whether you have any symptoms. Check with your doctor or call the Sexual Health Inforlink on 1800 451 624 to get personalised advice.
Typically it’s best to avoid sex:
If you do have sex before then, make sure you talk to your partner/s first and use a condom.
If you’ve recently been diagnosed with an STI, you’ll need to think about who you’ve had vaginal, anal or oral sex with in the last few months or since your last negative STI test so they can get tested (your doctor will help you figure out how far back you need to go). This process is referred to as contract tracing and is important because it helps to reduce the spread of STIs in the wider community.
If you’ve been diagnosed with an STI, your doctor will help you figure out who you need to tell, as it will depend on the STI and what (if any) symptoms you are experiencing.
It’s a good rule of thumb to let anyone you’ve had sexual contact with in the last 6-12 months or since your last negative STI test know, so they can get tested.
Once you’ve let any sexual contacts know, it’s totally up to you who you do or don’t tell.
There are so many ways you can approach these kinds of conversations and the way you play it is completely up to you. Typically though, there’s two options, letting them know directly and letting them know anonymously.
Letting someone know that you have an STI directly (they know the message is coming from you) can be difficult but is the best option if you feel safe doing so.
You can let them know face to face, over the phone, via text or even send them a DM. It’s a good idea to think about what you’re going to say and avoid any blame. It’s likely going to be a nerve wracking and potentially awkward conversation no matter what, so if you want our advice (we’ve been there), keep reading…
Alternatively, if you don’t feel safe letting someone know that you have an STI directly, you can send them an anonymous text using one of the below free services.
Not only does this website let you text or email partner/s anonymously, but they also have a bunch of free templates, videos and advice if you decide to let people know directly. Learn more.
The Drama Down Under is the same sort of thing but specialises in servicing men who have sex with men. Learn more.
Yep, you guessed it, same again but Better to Know is specifically designed for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people. Learn more.
Whilst there is no specific law that requires you to tell a sexual partner, you are legally required to take reasonable precautions to prevent the spread of an infection. That means practicing safe sex and being upfront with your partner about any potential risks. If you don’t take reasonable precautions, you could face a fine or even jail time.
Remember, one of the most important things to do after you’ve been diagnosed with an STI is think about out how you can prevent it from happening again.
Do you have questions about sexually transmitted infections or sexual health? Why not join the conversation on the Play Safe sex and relationship forum or ask Nurse Nettie a question. Or find out more about STI testing and STI treatment in Sydney and NSW.