It is important to get tested for STIs if you are sexually active (which means any activity that involves touching someone’s genitals), because it keeps you and other people safe.
However, sometimes people decide not to get tested, often because they don’t have the right information about STIs and how they are spread, or because they might be worried about what people will think of them if they test positive for an STI.
Whatever might be holding you back, here are some reasons why it's a good idea to get tested.
Anyone can get an STI, even if they have only taken part in sexual activity once. This includes touching of genitals with hands and vaginal, anal and oral sex.
The most common STIs such as chlamydia and gonorrhoea often don’t have any symptoms. That means that you or your partner(s) could have one and not know about it.
Condoms are an excellent barrier method for preventing the transmission of STIs, however they aren’t always effective, especially for STIs like pubic lice and genital warts or herpes, which can be spread via contact between the genital areas that aren’t covered by a condom. It is also possible to make mistakes when using condoms which reduces their effectiveness.
Certain STIs like chlamydia and gonorrhoea can cause infertility if left untreated, while others like HIV and syphilis can be fatal if they aren’t diagnosed early enough or managed well.
Most STIs can be treated very easily with antibiotics, and those which can’t be treated can still be very effectively managed. For instance, HIV can be managed using anti-viral medication that prevents it from being passed on to sexual partners.
It is important to make sure STIs are treated as early as possible to prevent them from causing long term health complications.
If you are sexually active it is important that you are responsible. Getting regularly tested means you won’t have any STIs getting out of hand, and hugely reduces the likelihood of passing an STI on to other people.