If you already have a sexually transmitted infection, early detection and management of the infection are important and can help lessen the possibility of infecting others. Be sure to notify your sexual partners as soon as a positive diagnosis is made to help reduce the chances that someone else will become infected. As we discussed earlier in this chapter, many college students are apprehensive about getting tested for STIs, especially when they think they might be positive. It’s important to be proactive in these matters and seek testing and treatment if you think you may have become infected. Many of the bacterial STIs can be treated with antibiotics. However, delaying treatment may result in more long-term consequences to your health, such as PID or infertility (for you or your partner).
Talking About STIs
Talking about STIs isn’t always easy to do, and although people might not always respond positively to such a discussion, it is important. Honesty, trust, and communication are key elements to any successful relationship. In order to begin a conversation about STIs, choose a time when you can be alone and uninterrupted. Sometimes it’s a little easier to start by bringing up the importance of honesty in relationships. You could talk about what you’ve learned in this class and how it’s made you think about your current and future health. Talk about any infections, diseases, and past behaviors that may have put you or your partner at risk. Suggest STI testing and the importance of monogamy in your relationship. Chapter 10 includes a book recommendation about negotiating safer sex behaviors in intimate relationships (see page 325). This book discusses STI communication and the difficulties involved in such conversations.
Overall, as we discussed at the beginning of this chapter, it’s important that we continue to try to break the silence about sexually transmitted infections and work to reduce the negative beliefs and stigma associated with these infections. Only then can we help encourage responsibility and safe behaviors.