I think I might have contracted an sexually transmitted infection (STI). What next?
The first thing to do is to get tested. The types of tests depend on the STI you are testing for. For example, if you get tested for HIV or Syphilis, you will normally have to provide blood samples, however, if you are get tested for Gonorrhea or Chlamydia, a urine sample or a swab may be sufficient. Sometimes, there may be different options available to you, so it is possible to test for HIV using a urine or a blood sample. If you were advised to choose the method with the higher accuracy - in this case a blood test is necessary. Keep in mind that some STIs such as HIV may not be immediately detectable after infection, which is why you should test twice; once soon after a possible exposure and a second time three months later. Note also that testing is not limited to those who think they may have contracted STI. It is good practice to test regularly especially if you have different sexual partners.
Where should I go?
In Singapore you can normally get tested for most STIs at any clinic. The results may be immediately available (e.g. with urine tests or swabs) or they may need to be evaluated in a laboratory (blood tests). In addition, there are specialist clinics (DSC Clinic) that also provide testing services, some of them with the added advantage of being able to obtain results of blood tests immediately.
What else should I keep in mind about testing?
For non-Singaporean residents it is important to note that HIV infections can lead to immediate cancellations of your leave of stay (permanent resident, employment pass holders). If your test is not anonymous (e.g. at a neighbourhood clinic via a general practitioner) the doctor is required to inform the immigration authorities of your health status.
What happens if I am diagnosed with STI?
You will normally have to undergo some sort of treatment. This again will vary on the type of STI you have been diagnosed with. Many STIs are treated with a course of antibiotics (Syphilis, Gonorrhea, Chlamydia, Trichonomiasis), others with specialist medication (HIV, Herpes, Crabs) or even surgery (removal of genital warts). You may sometimes have different treatment options which you can also combine (pills and lotion for Herpes). There is also a vaccine available for Hepatitis A and B. You will normally need a prescription to obtain specialist medications and antibiotics, however, you may be able to buy medication for more common STIs over the counter (special soap for crabs etc).
Should I tell my partner(s)?
STIs are contagious, and you should therefore let your partner(s) know that you have contracted one. In most cases it is also advisable for your partner to get tested.