Take a deep breath, getting a positive STI test is normal and a common part of being sexually active. A positive STI test doesn’t say anything inherent about you, your character, your self-worth, or your personality, even though it can sometimes feel that way. It can feel that way because of the stigma surrounding STIs. For some of us, the impact of STI stigma (i.e., being worried about what others may think, about what partners may feel about you, etc.) feels like the worst part of having an STI. Know that STIs are more common than you might think and having one does not mean you are risky, irresponsible or a failure. Approximately 1 in 2 people will experience an STI in their lifetime, with the likelihood being even higher around HPV (approximately 75% of individuals will experience an HPV infection in their lifetime and that’s a conservative estimate!). So, in short – you’re not alone.
What comes next after a positive test result will depend on which particular STI you have. For many, this will mean a simple course of antibiotics, for others, there are lots of treatment options that will allow you to manage symptoms and/or outbreaks.
You can also speak with your doctor or health care professional about treatment and safer sex practices such as condom use if you have questions. If your positive test result was a result of a coercive or violent situation, it can be helpful to locate your nearest sexual assault support centre for support.
Sexual health centres can also be a great resource if you’re experiencing negative feelings around a positive STI test. Contact your nearest clinic to talk with someone who can help you work through your feelings around a positive test result. You can also call Action Canada’s toll-free sexual health line at 1-888-642-2725 to be directed to the appropriate resource in your community.