Testing Practices (STI's)

While focusing on HIV, other STIs are often overlooked. And this can have serious health consequences for you if left untreated. Such as, increasing your chances of HIV infection, especially if you are fucking without protection and have certain physical conditions (such as open sores) that make it is easier for HIV to be transmitted.

The Advantages of Testing for STI's:

  • By having regular STI screening, you are taking control of your life and your health. You can get treated and protect your sexual partners from becoming infected.
  • Most STIs can be treated. If caught early enough, diagnosed and treated correctly, long term and permanent health complications can be avoided.

Having an STI makes HIV infection more likely. Thus, treating any STI is recommended in order to decrease your chances of HIV infection.

A few points to consider when testing for an STI:

  • If you test positive for an STI, your partner might accuse you of having unprotected sex outside the relationship. However, several STIs do not have symptoms and therefore it might not be clear when you actually got the STI – it could have been before the relationship even started.
  • Finding out you have one of the incurable STIs, such as herpes, may lead to depression, anxiety and loss of libido.
  • Once you know you have an STI you may feel an extra responsibility to disclose this and face rejection from a potential, or past, sexual partner.

Testing for STIs – What to expect?

As a guideline, you should test for STIs if you have any symptoms, if you are having unprotected sex, if you feel prepared and motivated, or simply decide to get into the habit of being screened at least once a year.

The following are used to test for STIs:

  • A urine test is very common and involves urinating into a cup and taking the urine to the relevant health care worker, who then inserts a "dipstick" into the urine it to check for various infections. The results from the urine test are given immediately and the health care worker can suggest a course of treatment if needed.
  • A blood test usually involves drawing a vial (5 ml) of blood and sending it to the lab to check for various STIs such as syphilis and hepatitis B, C and D.
  • Although not commonly used, a throat swab or scraping may be taken if treatment (involving antibiotics) for an existing sore throat has not been effective. This swab or scraping is then sent to the lab for analysis.
  • A rectal swab is not a very common procedure, but may be necessary if an abscess or some other infection in the rectum is not responding to antibiotics. A rectal swab, involves a swab of the infected area, and does not usually involve inserting the swab into the rectum.
  • A colonoscopy is uncommon and is limited to cases of suspected abnormal cells. A small camera is inserted into the rectum and threaded up to the colon and the cells are investigated. If the cells are thought to be problematic, a biopsy is taken – a small sample of the cells – and sent to the lab for analysis. In gay men, there is usually scar tissue around the rectum, but this does not necessarily mean that there is something wrong; however, if you are unsure, you should ask your medical practitioner.
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