How To Deal With a Positive STI Test Result
Receiving a positive STI result can be heart-wrenching. This is due to the stigma sexually transmitted infections carry. Society makes it easy to feel “dirty” or have a sense of shame when seeing these results. These feelings can be detrimental to your mental health and are hard to shake off because of the stigma.
Freaking out? You’re not alone
First thing’s first, know that what you are going through is all too common! According to the CDC, in 2018 it was estimated that 1 in 5 people in the U.S. has a sexually transmitted infection.
Because of the stigma, the conversation about STIs is less talked about than ever before. Chances are at least one of your friends has gone through the same thing. Because this diagnosis can be so isolating, I highly suggest talking about it with someone you trust. Talking to your doctor should be the first course of action.
Depending on the type of infection in question, you’ll need to either take medication or keep a watchful eye for symptoms. But when your nerves finally calm down, take a deep breath and tell someone that you know will understand.
It can take days, weeks, or even months to get to the point of talking about it to someone else, but you will feel much better once you do. It can even be with a trustworthy stranger! That might sound counterintuitive but there are plenty of support groups and community forums out there just for this reason.
Tell Your Partner
Having to tell your partner(s) is arguably the scariest thing after the diagnosis itself. You might wonder what their reaction will be or how it will affect the relationship. Unfortunately, this is an unavoidable step as they will need to know so that they too can get tested or receive treatment.
My recommendation here would be to simply prepare for all sorts of reactions. Some people take it well and are understanding, especially since they could be the source of the STI in the first place. Others can get defensive and upset.
Regardless, try to inform them of the positive test in a calm and informative manner if you can.
Remember That You Are More Than Your Diagnosis
While some STIs like chlamydia or syphilis can actually be completely cured with antibiotics, others like HIV or HSV (herpes) are lifelong. Because of the longevity of some of these diseases, it can be easy to make the diagnosis feel like it’s a bigger part of you than it is.
When that happens the issue no longer just affects you physically but also mentally, and even socially. It can drain your energy from wanting to meet with friends or talk to people because your self-worth as a whole has decreased.
But I’m here to remind you that this does not have to be the case. You are still in control of who you are and how others perceive you. It may take some extra effort to believe that, especially the first few months after your test results, but if you put in the work the stigma becomes lighter every day.
If you happen to be someone who has recently been diagnosed with one of the incurable STIs, don’t lose hope. Medical advancements continue to be made every day and are helping people not only control their recurring symptoms better but are even getting them to a point of being an easily controlled aspect of life!
For example, HIV can now be contained to such an extent that it can be undetectable and therefore intransmissible. Less than 50 years ago this virus was the biggest worry to people’s sex lives but now you can live a full life without worrying about passing it to your partner.
Another example is the option of taking antivirals for herpes. While this medication doesn’t prevent the possibility of passing it to your partner, it does decrease the likelihood and lessens the severity and frequency of outbreaks.
There’s also a vaccine that’s being worked on for herpes too! It’s still being finalized but there’s a push to help fast track its availability for use in the next few years. This just further shows how quickly medical advancements are being made and will only continue to be made!
If you’re currently going through this and are feeling alone, please reach out to someone. You can even book a venting session with Vent Over Tea and talk to someone about how you’re feeling while remaining anonymous!