What’s the deal with STI testing in South Africa?

STIs often don’t cause any symptoms.

Some studies have shown that 70% of STI infections don’t show any signs of symptoms.

We could all have an STIs and not know it. We don’t usually test for STIs in clinics. Instead, your healthcare provider will give you treatment for all the common bugs that can cause a particular condition if you go to them with physical signs and symptoms. 

If you think something might be wrong or if you have any symptoms of an STI like genital itching, burning, sores, or discharge please go to your clinic.

If you think you might have an STI because you had unprotected sex even though you don’t have any physical signs of an STI, go and speak to your closest healthcare provider. They may make a decision to treat you if you’re high risk you even if you have no symptoms. You can also pay privately for screening through your doctor, however these tests can be expensive. 

Different tests are done for different people depending on if you’re a woman or man and what your sexual behaviours are. STIs can be tested for through blood or urine tests or swabs. 

Your risk of STI is higher when:

  • You are aged between 16 and 30 years and live in a city.
  • You have had unprotected sex.
  • You have multiple partners or if your partner has multiple partners. 

The earliest you can start testing is 1 week after unprotected sex. However, depending on the STI, you may have to wait longer. 

Some STIs do not show up as soon as others. For example, syphilis can take up to 3 months to be detected in your blood, while chlamydia and gonorrhea will show up in your urine after 2 weeks. 

If you do have an STI and it goes untreated, it could cause serious harm to your body and make all your sexual partners vulnerable to getting it. 

If you’re worried you might have an STI, go to your clinic or speak to your closest healthcare provider.

The only way to protect yourself against STIs if you are having sex is to ALWAYS use a condom. Learn how to use a condom correctly here.

Do you want to learn how to protect yourself from getting an STI? Learn how to here.

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