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Why test for STIs?

There are studies have shown that 70% of STIs don’t show any signs of symptoms.

We could all have an STI 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. Sometimes you might not see any physical signs, but if you know you had sex without a condom, go speak to your nearest healthcare provider as soon as possible. They may decide to treat you if you’re high risk, even if you have no symptoms. You can also pay privately for screening through your doctor; however, these tests can be expensive.

All about STI testing.

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, urine tests or swabs.

Your risk of contracting STIs is higher when:

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

Not so fun fact:

In 2017 there were 1.9 million new cases of chlamydia and 2.2 million new cases of gonorrhoea in women aged between 15 and 49 in South Africa. Men of the same age had 3.9 million new cases of chlamydia and 2.2 million new cases of gonorrhoea, according to the NICD.

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 don’t show up as soon as others. For example, syphilis can take up to 3 months to be detected in your blood, while chlamydia and gonorrhoea will show up in your urine after 2 weeks.

Why is STI treatment needed?

If you do have an STI and it goes untreated, it could cause serious harm to your body such as the risk of infertility (not being able to have children), and it could put all your sexual partners at risk of getting it. If you’re worried you might have an STI, go to your clinic or speak to your closest healthcare provider. You are also encouraged to test for HIV and pregnancy if you had sex without a condom (unprotected sex).

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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