Multiple sexual partners may seem like a fantasy to some, but to the educated the very thought is a high-risk endeavor. If you have multiple sexual partners this article is a must read for you.
Studies show that many people fail to get STD/STI testing because of three basic issues:
1. Lack of public awareness
2. Lack of training of health workers, and
3. Long-standing, widespread stigma around STIs.
Having multiple partners predisposes monogamous and concurrent sexual partners to a higher risk of STI as well as co-infections with other STIs and HIV. Furthermore, having multiple partners makes one susceptible to getting re-infected especially if they do not know the source.
The TPPRC medical team knows the value of educating our community on the importance of STI testing with each new partner. Even if they are using protection, we encourage our patients to have their new partners tested especially if multiple partners are involved. We understand being proactive in STI testing can help detect asymptomatic infections as well as infections that mimic symptoms of other common ailments. We encourage patients to know the sexual history of each partner to the best of their ability and to seek care and intervention promptly if experiencing symptoms of irregular discharge,vaginal blisters, painful urination, lower back pain, nausea, fever, bleeding between menstruation and pain during intercourse.
“Cathy” (name changed for confidentiality) was referred to us by her friend, a previous patient at TPPRC. Because of her friend’s “amazing experience at TPPRC”, Laura came to our clinic for STI testing. Her social history was complex. She had previously discontinued a relationship with her partner of two years whom she thought was monogamous. A week prior to her visit, she was contacted by one of the partners of her ex-boyfriend who informed her that she tested positive for chlamydia. To make matters worse, the patient had a new partner she had unprotected sex with several times. Cathy had been treated for a UTI where some symptoms such as itching and burning on urination did mimic an STI but she felt they were strongly correlated to the UTI, and was undergoing treatment given to her from an ER visit.
Cathy was given results by our clinic quickly and she came back for treatment for chlamydia. During both visits, we educated her on the importance of STI testing with each new partner, how early intervention and quick turnaround of results enables early detection and treatment to prevent further complications. Our entire team’s efforts help alleviate her worries and anxieties, and empowered her to continue follow-up care. It also gave her the courage and knowledge to educate her previous and new partners to get STI testing. Because of the care and encouragement Cathy received at TPPRC, she did not feel the shame of the stigma around the STI. When she did update her new partner, she said she “felt very comfortable speaking with everyone.”
Cathy’s testimony clearly shows the importance of creating a safe environment which empowers our patients to take personal responsibility for their sexual health through education of STI prevention, early intervention and prompt follow-through!