If you’re having sex, testing for sexually transmissible infections (STIs) is just a normal part of looking after your sexual health.
Here’s why. STIs don’t discriminate. It doesn’t matter what your background is, who you have sex with, or where you’re from.
What’s an STI? An STI is an infection you can get through sexual activity with someone who has that infection. Some STIs like HIV and hepatitis B can also be transmitted from blood to blood contact.
STIs are common, especially among young people and some STIs, are more common in regional, remote, and isolated communities.
STIs include chlamydia, gonorrhoea, trichomoniasis, HIV, hepatitis B and syphilis.
STIs often have no symptoms and the only way to know if you’re infected is with a test. Testing at least once a year helps you keep your health in check. Getting tested regularly shows respect for yourself, your partner and your community.
If you don’t know you have an STI and you don’t get it treated, it can cause damage to the body over time, which can be severe. Some STIs can make it difficult to have a baby or create problems during pregnancy. And some STIs can be passed on to your unborn baby when pregnant.
You can have an STI and not know it, because many have no signs or symptoms — that’s why it is important to get tested regularly. It’s the only way of knowing whether you have an STI. Testing for STIs is simple, quick and free or low cost.
Get tested every six to 12 months or when:
- you’ve had unprotected sex with someone new
- you have a partner who’s been diagnosed with an STI
- you have any STI symptoms
- you and your partner want to stop using condoms and other protection methods
- you’ve shared injecting or tattooing equipment with other people
Doctors, nurses and health workers do STI testing all the time and are required by law to keep what you talk about private. They can only share information if there is a serious concern for your or someone else’s safety
For more information on what to expect during a sexual health check-up, click here.
Where to get tested
Finding a place to get tested is straightforward! Your local doctor can do it. But an Aboriginal Medical Service, health clinic, sexual health clinic, or Family Planning clinic are all good places for you to get a sexual health check-up too. Click here to find a testing location near you.
While STI testing is usually best done in person, there is another option, online testing. Online testing isn’t for you if you have symptoms or have been told by a partner that they have an STI. In those instances, it is best to book in with your doctor, medical service or clinic.
More information about available online testing services in your area and whether it’s right for you, can be found here.
So whether you live in a regional town or a remote area, there are a range of options to keep you in tip top sexual health.