Getting diagnosed with an STI is scary.
The doctor visits, the blood testing, the invasion of privacy, the waiting; the whole process is scary. Getting a positive diagnosis can feel even worse, especially if you have an infection that isn’t curable, like genital herpes or HIV/AIDS.
When you first get diagnosed, it’s completely normal to panic or to be upset. However, it’s important to remember that scary as it can be, learning that you have a sexually transmitted infection is not the end of your life.
Here are a few things that you should keep in mind when you learn that you have an STI. The process of accepting and living with a positive diagnosis will be different for everyone, but taking these small self-care steps could help ease the process.
You’re not alone.
When you get diagnosed, it’s easy to feel like you’re the only one in the world dealing with this issue. But the truth is, more than half of all people will contract some sort of STI over their lifetime, and there are over 19 million new STI cases reported every year. That means that you, whether you know it or not, are surrounded by people everyday who have felt the exact same way you are feeling right now. You are not alone.
There are people who want to support you.
One of the worst parts about learning you have an STI is knowing that eventually, you’ll have to tell someone. Whether it’s a sexual partner or just a close friend you want to open up to, talking about your STI can be very intimidating. You may have a fear of being judged or think that people will view you differently after learning you have an STI.
That being said, having an emotional support system as you learn to deal with your positive diagnosis is extremely important to your mental health. If you’re hesitant to open up to your loved ones, there are other ways to find people to talk to. There are internet forums, support groups and even dating sites for people who have STIs. Since so many people are living with a positive diagnosis, it’s actually surprisingly easy to find people you can share your experience with. No matter what you decide to do or who you decide to tell, keeping your emotions bottled up is never the answer. Talking about your status, even if it’s just to your doctor, will help you heal quicker and maybe not feel so alone.
Your diagnosis does not change who you are.
Unfortunately, the stigma around STIs makes many people believe that having an STI says something about you as a person. In reality, STIs are really just a result of what happens when human beings get close to one another. We’ve all gotten the flu or a cold at some point in our life, and getting an STI is very similar experience, just with more social stigma.
Getting a positive diagnosis may change some things about your life, but at the end of the day, it doesn’t change who you are as a person. You are still as smart, strong, and beautiful as you were before you ever contracted the infection.