Sexually transmitted infections (STIs) are infections that are spread from one person to another. They’re really common and sometimes people have them without any symptoms. The best way to protect yourself and your partner is to practice safer sex – and use protection.
It’s not uncommon for people to not know how STI testing works. Through Access Granted, STI testing is easy, free and confidential. The type of test you need will be determined by your health care provider and whether or not you’re getting tested for a specific STI. Let’s go over some of the details and testing methods.
STIS come in all sorts of shapes and sizes, and present with different symptoms. There’s no one comprehensive test you can have that will tell you which STIs you have. Your health care provider will determine which STIs you should be tested for based on your sexual activity and concerns. It’s important that you’re completely transparent and honest with your health care provider about your sexual history and any concerns.
Know that some STIs are common enough that your health care provider will recommend getting tested for them regularly – no judgement! If you’re worried that you might have an STI, there’s nobody better to speak to than your health care provider. They’re obligated to keep your information private, and will only disclose your results to your parents if you give them permission.
It is important to advocate for yourself as you navigate a sexual health visit; if you don’t feel safe and respected, it is your right to seek a different health care provider. You can also ask them to walk you through the process so you know what to expect. Most health care providers want you to have the most affirming, positive visit where you feel seen, heard and respected.
There are several locations throughout the Omaha metro area where you can receive easy, free and completely confidential STI tests. Depending on where you are seen, you may get treatment at that same location. Find a testing center near you. Or keep scrolling down.
Okay, so here’s the deal-getting tested for STIs is completely confidential. The only person who will know your results is your health care provider, and they are obligated by law to not reveal your personal information. That said, your state or city health departments might request information from your health care provider so they can better track outbreaks or trends, but there are laws preventing them from sharing your test results with your family, friends or employer.
One thing to consider, however, is that if you use your health insurance to pay for testing, there may be others on your plan that have access to your test results. Just be aware of who might already have access to your information before being tested. Speak to your health care provider if you have concerns about this. If you’re under 18, you may be worried that your doctor will tell your parents. If that’s the case, there are plenty of testing centers where you can get confidential tests without your parents’ permission. They don’t have to know that you’ve been to a clinic, and they will never be contacted by your health care provider unless you allow it. Just make sure you ask your health care provider about their privacy policies. Will they call you at home, or on your cell phone? Will they send results via mail to your home? Each testing center is different, but all of them will understand your concerns. Don’t be afraid to ask. They’ll never judge you.
Tests provided by our local health care partners through Access Granted are free.
Breathe. You’re not the first person to have an STI and they are all manageable. Almost half of young people will have an STI by the time they are 25. People with STIs are capable of having pleasurable and safe sexual relationships. Remember, most STIs are treatable and even curable. Each STI is different, but modern medicine has advanced to the point where there are several ways to treat them.
Let’s use chlamydia as an example. If you test positive, you’ll be given a prescription for an antibiotic–the same medication you’d receive if you had a sinus infection. This will cure your case of chlamydia, but it’s important that you follow the treatment recommended by your health care provider. STIs have been around long enough that there’s a tried-and-true method for treating them. The better you are at following your provider’s directions, the easier it’ll be to treat the STI. Keep taking medication until it’s gone, even if the symptoms have gone away. Not to freak you out or anything, but even if you cure yourself of chlamydia, you can still get it again if you have sex with someone who has it. That’s why it’s important to have your sexual partner(s) tested and treated for it before having sex with them again.
What about herpes though? Good question. Medications are also available to treat herpes symptoms, and prevent future outbreaks or minimize their severity, as well as reducing the risk of spreading it to others. About one in every six adults have genital herpes in the United States, all living normal, healthy lives. There are thousands of others with the same condition, and it’s nothing to be ashamed of.
Open and honest communications is key in every relationship. Telling your partner that you have an STI can be challenging. But listen, and listen closely. The conversation isn’t just about you. If you have an STI, your partner could have the same STI if they haven’t already contracted it from you. Your partner needs to know so they can get tested and prevent themselves from spreading it in the future. It’s not just you that your STI affects-everyone gets an STI from someone else.
If you need to practice telling your partner, feel free to ask your health care provider to listen. They have seen this situation countless times before. They can provide you advice, and guide your words in a way that should help your partner better understand the circumstances. Find a mirror, your journal, a personal friend whom you trust endlessly, whatever you need to do to help you open a line of communication with your partner. Remember to support your partner. This might be difficult for them to hear, but telling them is the right thing to do.
The definition of abstinence is when you don’t have sex, specifically thinking about the main activities that can cause pregnancy or STIs like vaginal, oral and anal sex. People of all ages are abstinent for different reasons at different stages in their life and that’s okay! But keep in mind that some kinds of outercourse can spread STIs if there’s skin to skin genital contact, or if your partner’s sexual fluids get on or in your genitals or mouth.
If abstinence isn’t realistic for you, that’s okay. Using condoms can prevent you and your partner(s) from getting STIs. In fact, when used correctly and consistently, they are a very effective way to prevent passing an infection.
The good news, condoms are free at more than 160 locations.
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