Par Eric Charette | 11 July 2023

What to Do If You Get Positive STBBI Test Results

You've recently been tested for STBBIs (sexually transmitted and blood-borne infections) and you just received positive test results for chlamydia, gonorrhea, syphilis or any other infection? You’re likely feeling overwhelmed and have several concerns.

Resultat de depistage positif

You’ve recently been tested for STBBIs (sexually transmitted and blood-borne infections) and you just received positive test results for chlamydia, gonorrhea, syphilis or any other infection? You’re likely feeling overwhelmed and have several concerns. Lots of emotions can rear their ugly heads and make the experience unpleasant. That’s normal. Unfortunately, sexually transmitted and blood-borne infections (STBBIs) are still very stigmatized.

That said, don’t worry, we’re not leaving you to deal with this on your own. This article covers the steps to follow after receiving positive std results for a bacterial STBBI, such as chlamydia, gonorrhée, or syphilis.

First, rest assured that Prelib will call you whether your std test results are negative or positive. If an STBBI has been detected (i.e., if you have positive results), you will be given complete information over the phone about the treatment you’ll need to follow and the measures to take to reduce the risk of transmission. Here are the main points:

1) Get treatment after a positive STBBI test

The first thing you’ll need to do after testing positive for an STBBI is to get your treatment and follow it through to the end even if your symptoms go away. Why? Given that the infection may still be in your system, stopping treatment prematurely may render it ineffective. The medication eliminates the infection and prevents the development of complications that could otherwise compromise your health.

The prescribed treatments may vary depending on the specific STBBI.

Positive test for chlamydia, medication and risks

Fortunately, chlamydia is treated easily with a course of oral antibiotics, the duration of which can vary depending on the site of infection. Untreated, chlamydia can lead to significant long-term health complications. For people with a uterus, the risks include developing pelvic inflammatory disease, urinary tract infections, chronic pelvic pain, and even infertility. Untreated infection can also increase the risk of ectopic pregnancy, a life-threatening condition.

For people with a penis, chlamydia can cause inflammation of the testicles as well as infertility.

Treatment is also important to prevent transmitting the infection to a partner during unprotected sex.

Positive test for gonorrhea, antibiotics and risks

Sometimes called “the clap” or “the drip”, gonorrhea is treated with antibiotics, including intramuscular injections. The clinic you go to will screen you for both gonorrhea and chlamydia at the same time. If left untreated, gonorrhea can produce similar complications to chlamydia: infertility, increased risk of ectopic pregnancy, chronic testicular infection, chronic abdominal pain, or permanent scarring of the urinary tract.

Unfortunately, some strains of gonorrhea have become resistant to antibiotics. It is therefore essential to analyze a sample to identify the specific strain in order to prescribe the most effective treatment. Also, in the case of gonorrhea, a follow-up sti testing is recommended two weeks after the end of treatment.

Syphilis diagnosis, treatment and complications

Syphilis can be diagnosed early (less than a year after contraction) or late (over a year later). The recommended treatment is penicillin injections. The number of injections to prescribe depends on the stage at which the infection is detected. Other antibiotic treatments exist if you are allergic to penicillin. If syphilis is left untreated, it can progress through several stages with different symptoms, including a latency period with no symptoms. However, just because there are no more symptoms doesn’t mean that the infection is completely gone.

Untreated syphilis can have serious health consequences, especially when it attacks the nervous system. Neurosyphilis can manifest as difficulties with balance and coordination, dizziness, cognitive impairment, headaches, or problems with vision or hearing.

Congenital syphilis, that is being infected since birth, can also occur when the bacteria is transmitted during pregnancy or childbirth, and it can seriously impact babies’ health.

2) Notify your partner(s) of a positive test

While notifying your partner(s) can be awkward, it is important to do so when you get a positive test for chlamydia, gonorrhea or syphilis, as this will allow them to get tested and receive treatment, if necessary. Even though there’s nothing to be ashamed of (really!), you might still have feelings of shame. Remember that informing your partners of your positive results is a good deed. It means that you have their sexual health at heart. For whatever reason, if you are afraid to notify your partner(s), you can get help from anonymous notification services, such as the HIV/AIDS Portal.

To ensure that the whole thing is the least stressful as possible for everyone, it is best to think ahead about the best strategy to use to notify your partner(s) (e.g., in person, via a phone call or text message, etc.). Remember to specify what STBBI you have and to make it clear that a person can be infected even if they don’t have any symptoms. You can also explain that the infection can lead to health complications and be transmitted to other people, and therefore, that it is important to get tested as soon as possible since it is the only way to know if one is infected.

If you don’t know where to start, you can simply cut to the chase:

“I got tested, and it turns out that I have [INSERT STBBI HERE]. Since we saw each other not so long ago, I just wanted to give you a heads-up so that you can go get tested as well.”

Need more inspiration? Club Sexu has plenty of advice for you.

Pssst… if you don’t feel like giving an oral presentation on STBBIs, don’t hesitate to send them the information on our website! We have one information sheet for each STBBI.

3) Engage in safer sex practices until the end of treatment

Regardless of which bacterial STBBI you have contracted, it’s essential to avoid all sexual contact during treatment.

Yep, you’ll unfortunately have to bench yourself for the safety of the team. We recommend abstinence throughout your treatment to avoid infecting a partner or reinfecting yourself. On the other hand, you can have all the solo fun you want!

If abstinence is not an option and you plan on having sex, it’s important to use protection (external or internal condom, dental dam, latex glove, finger glove) during all your sexual encounters. If you have a regular partner, you should recommend that they be treated at the same time as you in order to avoid reinfection.

Even if hearing your diagnosis can be difficult, know that positive test results don’t signal the end of a fulfilling (sex) life. If you need support, don’t hesitate to talk to a healthcare professional.

4) Undergo a follow-up test, if prescribed

Some STBBIs require follow-up tests after compliance with treatment to ensure that the infection is cleared. The time at which a follow-up test needs to be performed varies depending on the STBBI.

However, there are minimum time periods to respect before performing the follow-up test, since you can get a positive test after treatment even after three weeks. In any case, your healthcare provider can tell you which STBBIs require a follow-up test and when to take it to avoid getting a false positive.

Plan the next step with Prelib

Regardless of what STBBI you test positive for, at Prelib, STI self-testing center and sexual health specialist, our teams will be there to support you and help you plan the next steps. Despite the negative feelings that may come with your test results, remember that your diagnosis does not define you and, with the right treatments, everything will soon be behind you!

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