Sexually Transmitted Infections (STIs) impact millions of people per year. By age 25 about half of all sexually active people will have an STI. Many times symptoms will not be present or may be mistaken for something else, such as an irritation. However, if left untreated there can be severe complications including infertility. With this in mind, you can’t always tell if you or your partner has an STI.  It only takes one sexual encounter for an STI to be spread between partners. Being tested, using preventative measures, and having conversations with your partner about sexual history before the first sexual encounter is essential in stopping the spread of STIs.


To be tested contact your healthcare provider. When speaking with your provider, be sure to inform him or her about your sexual history and discuss the STI(s) that you will be tested for. There is not one test that screens for all STIs. Some tests require urine, others need blood or a swab sample. Be sure you are tested for all STIs you may have been exposed to.


If you test positive, meaning you have an infection, many STIs have treatment options. It is also important to understand your local public health department will be contacting you. Your health information is kept confidential; however certain diseases, such as positive STI tests, are required to be reported to health departments. Public health departments follow-up with patients to assist in answering any questions, informing of prevention strategies, and helping with contacting partners to maintain your anonymity, if needed.


Finally, remember to take precautions when it comes to your sexual health. Besides being tested and discussing with your partner, using a condom correctly every time can reduce your risk of STIs. Other birth control methods, such as the pill, IUD, implant, or patch do not protect you from STIs. Even if you have been previously treated you can reacquire the infections if exposed again, making it vital to always use safe practices.  


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Submitted by: Brittany Fry, BS, MPH, Burnett County DHHS Public Health Specialist

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