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What if I test positive?

If you have just found out that you have a sexually transmitted infection (STI), you are not alone. STIs are common infections and anyone who is sexually active may get an STI at some point in their life.

Chlamydia, gonorrhea, syphilis, HIV and hepatitis C are all reportable STIs.  This means that if you test positive for one of these STIs, your test result is shared with public health to ensure that you get the proper support and treatment.

If you test positive for one of these STIs, there are a few things that will happen.

A nurse at the BC Centre for Disease Control will contact you.

A nurse from the STI clinic at the BC Centre for Disease Control (BCCDC) will talk with you about your test results, go over treatment options, and answer any questions you might have. The nurse will ask you about sexual partners and talk with you about how to let them know that they need testing and treatment. 

If you live outside the Vancouver area, the nurse will let you know where you can go for treatment and follow-up. Island Health and Interior Health have partnered with a number of walk-in clinics and public health clinics that offer treatment for GetCheckedOnline clients. You also have the option of going to your own doctor or to a different clinic. The BCCDC nurse will offer to connect you with a public health nurse in your area who can help you notify your partners and link you to local supports if needed. 

If you find out you have an STI, you may feel overwhelmed or upset. This is common, and the nurse is there to give you support. The nurse can answer your questions, talk about options and refer you to services that can help to support you. 

You will be given treatment options.

The BCCDC nurse will talk with you about treatment. 

Chlamydia, gonorrhea, and syphilis: These STIs are all cured with antibiotics. It is important that you do not have oral, vaginal or anal sex until you and your partners have finished taking all of the medication. If you or your partners miss pills or have sex before you have finished your treatment, there is a chance that the infection will stay in your body and cause problems later. If this happens, talk with your health care provider who will help you to decide if you need further treatment.

HIV: HIV is treated with medications that manage symptoms and help keep the virus count low in the blood. HIV cannot be cured, but the medications help people stay healthy.  A health care provider will talk with you about what treatment options are best for you.  

It is important to know that in Canada, people with HIV can be prosecuted under criminal law for not disclosing their HIV status to their partners (except in some specific circumstances). For the most up-to-date information about this issue, please visit the Canadian HIV/AIDS Legal Network website​

Hepatitis C: There are treatments available that can cure hepatitis C for some people.  A health care provider will talk to you about what treatment options are best for you.

Sexual partners are encouraged to get tested and treated.

 When you have an STI, it is recommended that your partners be told to get tested.  

A BCCDC nurse will talk with you about ways to notify your partners.  There are a few different ways: 

  1. Tell your partner yourself.
  2. Have a BCCDC nurse tell your partner for you. The nurse will tell your partner that they have been exposed to an STI and need to get tested. Your name will not be used. You can also ask your regular doctor or other health care provider to do this for you.
  3. Tell your partner with a health care provider present. Make an appointment for both of you together. Your health care provider can help answer any questions your partner might have.

You may want more information and support.

Getting a positive test result may bring up a lot of questions. You may wonder how a positive result will affect your life. You may wonder how to talk with sexual partners.  These are common concerns and the nurse that contacts you is there to help answer your questions and offer support.  In addition, we have a list of online resou​rces that offer support and information.  

Your results are stored in secure databases.

Your personal health information is kept within secure databases at the Provincial Health Services Authority.  Tests results are also kept in a provincial laboratory system called the Provincial Laboratory Information Solution (PLIS), where a code is used instead of your name.  Health care providers who are not providing you with care will not be able to access your records.​​​

Have Questions?

If you can't find answers here, you can ask your questions online at SmartSexResource. A sexual health nurse is available to answer your questions through the website or private chat.

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Having Safer Sex

Using condoms and other kinds of protection is a very effective way to prevent STIs. Spice up your safer sex life. Use protection and learn how to talk about safer sex with partners

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Your Privacy

Your privacy is important to us. Any personal information collected by this online service is protected by our privacy policy and provincial privacy legislation.

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Other Resources

Need more information or someone to talk to? There are lots of online resources and local services that deal with sexual health and STIs.

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PHSA improves the health of British Columbians by seeking province-wide solutions to specialized health care needs in collaboration with BC health authorities and other partners. Learn more about our agencies & services.

Copyright 2016 BC Centre for Disease Control. All rights reserved.

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