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Testing for sexually transmitted diseases (STIs) and follow-up

What are STIs?

STIs (sexually transmitted infections) are infections that are spread through sexual contact. If you have been sexually assaulted you might be at risk of getting a sexually transmitted infection (STI).

STIs are infections such as:

  • chlamydia
  • gonorrhoea
  • HIV
  • hepatitis B
  • hepatitis C
  • syphilis 

How do I know if I have an STI?

Your doctor will give you advice about how to get tested for STIs. They will usually offer to do some tests whilst you are visiting the SARC.

You might feel embarrassed, but there is no need. Your doctor and the staff at the SARC are used to testing for STIs. It is their job and they will not judge you. They will do their best to explain everything and make sure you understand what is happening.

Can I have a test for STIs?

Your doctor will tell you what tests they think you need. If you have been sexually assaulted they will usually offer to carry out tests for STIs the first time you see them.

What sort of tests will I need?

Tests for STIs might involve:

  • a urine (pee) sample
  • a blood sample
  • an examination of your genitals
  • swabs from your genital region. The doctor will usually do these for you, but if you are worried or embarrassed you can sometimes do them yourself
  • swabs from other areas. Your doctor will explain these to you if you need them

Do I need any treatment?

Once you have had tests for STIs they will be sent away to the lab.

Your doctor will let you know the results when they have them. That usually takes a few days or a week. If you do have an STI your doctor will be able to arrange treatment for you.

In some cases your doctor will offer you vaccinations for hepatitis B or tablets for hepatitis and HIV (known as PEPSE). If you need this then your doctor will explain it to you, and there is more information about them for you.

Can I still have sex if I have an STI?

If you are having sex you need to use condoms until you are sure the STI has been treated and you do not have it anymore.

That means using condoms until after the STI treatment is finished, and until after you have had another STI test which proves the infection has gone.

Will I have to be tested again?

In some cases your doctor will want to repeat some of the STI tests, or will ask you to attend your local sexual health or GUM clinic to have the tests repeated.

They will tell you if that is the case.

What if I could be pregnant?

If you think you could be pregnant, please tell your doctor. Your doctor will perform a pregnancy test at the SARC as part of the assessment anyway.

Even in early pregnancy STI treatment is usually recommended, and in some cases is even more important to prevent harm to you and your baby.

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Please note: this is a generic information sheet relating to care at Sheffield Children’s NHS FT. These details may not reflect treatment at other hospitals. This information is not intended as a substitute for professional medical care. Always follow your healthcare professionals’ instructions. If this resource relates to medicines, please read it alongside the medicine manufacturer’s patient information leaflet. If this information has been translated into another language from English, efforts have been made to maintain accuracy, but there may still be some translation errors. If you are unsure about any of the guidance in this resource or have specific questions about how it relates to your child, always ask your healthcare professional for further advice.

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