Sexually transmitted infections (STI) are common and a person can have an STI without knowing it. He or she can have the infection without disease symptoms – no signs, no symptoms. The only way to really know if you have an STI is to get tested.
If you’re sexually active and have a new or multiple partners, it’s crucial that you use protection and ensure you get tested for leading common STIs such as chlamydia, gonorrhea, herpes, syphilis, HPV, trichomoniasis and HIV.
Getting tested as soon as possible is important because when STIs occur, early identification and treatment can eliminate infection before it causes complications or spreads to other people. But often people are so shocked and disturbed by sexually transmitted infections, possibly happening to them that they shy away from getting tested. But it’s often when symptoms are visible or being experienced that it’s the best time to identify them. Early identification is very important in tackling the further spread of the condition.
The most effective approach is to prevent infection by reducing exposure. This can be achieved by practicing safe sex and consistently using condoms or abstaining from sex or reducing the number of partners.
Raising awareness and promoting the early STI screenings message can be difficult as the prevention efforts and promotion of clinic services for STI detection and treatment needs to be directed to the people in the community.
When marketing this message, it should emphasise the benefits of prevention of early treatment over later treatment to control and help reduce the burden of disease in the community by reaching all kinds of people and convincing them of the value and importance of early use of STI services.
To promote it better, health care workers should encourage the early use of services for people with symptoms or concerns about STIs which includes:
- Promoting awareness about STIs and their complications
- Educating people about STI symptoms and the significance of early detection
- Reaching out to people who may not feel comfortable using clinic services
Sexually transmitted infections are a major public health problem. Spreading the message about early STI screenings and implementing strategies to control it can greatly reduce incidence and prevalence.