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You Got An STI, Now What?

You Got An STI, Now What?

by Team Champ - June 20, 2024

Disclaimer: This article is not meant to provide or replace medical advice. If you have an STI or have been exposed to one, seek medical attention from a healthcare professional immediately.

You just got your STI test results back, and they weren’t what you were hoping for. This might send you into a panic-induced Google search and that probably landed you here. If that’s you, don’t worry, this isn’t the end of the world. Although it would be preferable to never get an STI, they happen, and they are actually pretty common. So, take some deep breaths, and we’ll give you an in-depth walk through on what to do when you’ve been diagnosed with an STI.
How We Got Here

It might be pretty clear how and where you got an STI, but some situations make it not so obvious. You may have had multiple sexual partners (no shade here, we’re fully in support of that if that’s what you’re into) or you may have come across some misinformation that oftentimes circulates around STIs.

STIs can come from a number of different things including being the giver or receiver of oral sex, vaginal or anal penetrative sex, fluid exchange, sharing needles, or direct contact with an active breakout. Anyone can get an STI, regardless of your sex, sexual orientation, or relationship status. Even when symptoms of an STI aren’t present, it’s still contagious. The only way to reduce the chances of getting an STI is through barrier methods, like condoms. Luckily, we have an endless supply of condoms for you to stock up on at Champ. If you’re having casual sex or sex with different partners, we always recommend using a condom, even if you’ve talked about your testing history with your partner. Some STIs might not show up on a panel right away, and wearing a condom is much less uncomfortable than having an STI (trust us).

Breaking Down The Diagnosis

There are quite a few kinds of STIs, but they are generally broken into two categories: curable and incurable. The curable ones include chlamydia, gonorrhea, syphilis, and trichomoniasis. We’re not going to get too deep into the symptomatology of STIs, but we will give some background to help get us all on the same page.


This is an incredibly common STI, with over 1.6 million people in the US being diagnosed in 2022. Again, even though it’s common and curable, it should still be your goal to not contract it. Chlamydia doesn’t always show symptoms at first, but it can lead to painful sex, unusual discharge, blood, and testicular pain. It can also infect quite a few places including the rectum, vagina, penis, throat, and eye. So if you find yourself with pink eye after having unprotected sex, it could be a sign that you have a STI. It’s good to know that chlamydia can typically be easily treated with a round of antibiotics.


Gonorrhea has similar symptoms as chlamydia with the addition of testicular swelling, pus-like discharge, itching in infected areas and swollen joints. As with chlamydia, gonorrhea may not show symptoms, but it’s still just as contagious. It can be passed between sexual partners and to babies during birth. Antibiotics will typically cure the infection, but it’s important to get it treated quickly. When not treated, there can be long-term complications like infertility, an increased risk of contracting HIV and joint infections.


Although not the most common STI, syphilis was declared to be an epidemic by the CDC. Syphilis creates actual sores and it spreads through direct contact with these sores. At first, these sores might not actually be, well sore. They are often painless, so some people might not even notice them. Other common “sick” symptoms may include a fever, sore throat, headache, muscle aches and fatigue. Even if the symptoms start to go away on their own, syphilis can actually stay in your body for years and create life-threatening complications. With that being said, it’s typically curable. Get tested regularly, let your doctor know if you notice any symptoms, get treated promptly and there should be no reason to worry about any late-stage complications.


Also known as Trich, this STI doesn’t often have any symptoms that show up in men. About 70% of people in general don’t have symptoms after contracting Trich. Even after treatment, the reinfection rate is relatively high, with 1 in 5 people getting reinfected within 3 months. The CDC recommends both you and your partner(s) getting treated for Trich and getting re-tested 3 months after completing treatment before restarting any sexual activity. This STI is a great example of why it’s essential to get tested for STIs regularly, even if you don’t have any symptoms. Just because you don’t “feel” like you have an STI, it doesn’t mean you or your partner(s) don’t have one.

On the other side, there are STIs which aren’t incurable. Getting HIV, Herpes, Hep B, or HPV doesn’t automatically come with a death sentence. There are tons of people who live long, normal lives (and sex lives) even with one of these diagnoses. If you’ve recently been diagnosed with one of these STIs, it’s not the end of the road for you. We’ll break down what each of them may mean. Again, we recommend you speak with your doctor immediately if you suspect you may have any of these STIs.

Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV)

Although the risk of contracting HIV is higher with gay men, anyone can get HIV. It is not a “gay” disease and was poorly misrepresented as such during the 1980’s AIDS epidemic (we’ll get into the difference between HIV and AIDS in a sec).
HIV is spread through the same ways as other STIs. It moves through bodily fluids like blood, semen, breast milk and genital secretions, so it’s spread most commonly through penetrative sex, but can also happen due to needle sharing and birth. It does not spread through saliva or sweat. General physical contact or kissing someone who is HIV positive does not increase the risk of infection.

HIV is a virus that attacks the body’s immune system and can lead to Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome (AIDS). AIDS usually shows up when someone has been living with HIV for a while and is due to the long-term damage of HIV on the immune system. Not everyone with HIV will get AIDS, and that’s what makes HIV treatments so crucial. Even without a cure, there are treatments that can help manage HIV symptoms and support the immune system. It’s possible for someone to live a long life with HIV and not have further complications - think Magic Johnson. HIV and especially AIDS makes the body more susceptible to other illnesses because it compromises the immune system. A cold or sickness can have a bigger impact on someone with HIV or AIDS than someone without. 

While there aren’t any cures for HIV or AIDS, there are medications that can protect against contracting HIV in the first place. We dove deeper into PrEP and PEP when answering your Top Sex Questions, so check out more information over there.


There are two types of Herpes and odds are you actually might have one of them — cold sores. Yep, if you have ever had a cold sore, you have herpes. Before you throw your computer at a wall or call up every doctor, most adults actually have HSV-1. It’s not life-threatening or cause for any concern, but is just as contagious. HSV-2 on the other hand can have some more uncomfortable effects, including genital herpes.
With the right treatment, herpes can become relatively easy to manage while continuing your sex life - breakouts can lessen over time. There may be times where a breakout is not obvious, but still contagious, so wearing a high-quality condom will be the best way to help prevent any potential spread. Herpes is still serious, but not as “sex life ending” as you might have thought.

Pro tip: Herpes is quite often not included on a general STI panel. Ask your doctor if you can have it added in during your next routine STI test to play it safe. 

Hepatitis B

Hep B is an infection in the liver that doesn’t currently have a cure, but it does have a vaccine. The vaccine is nearly 100% effective against contracting Hepatitis B and it’s often given to babies soon after birth. If you’ve received the vaccine, you don’t need to worry about it too much. If you haven’t gotten the vaccine, chat with your doctor about your options. Either way, we’ve said it before and we’ll say it again — condoms are your best bet for protection.
Human Papillomavirus (HPV)

Lastly, we have HPV. It’s often not included in the STI conversation because it’s a little bit different. There aren’t any symptoms of HPV itself and there aren’t any tests to determine someone’s HPV status. Most of the time, HPV will go away on its own and not cause any additional issues. In some cases, there will be further complications that lead to cervical cancer or genital warts. 

The main thing you can do to prevent HPV and additional complications is get the HPV vaccine, which is at least 97% effective and get regular cervical cancer screenings if you have a cervix.  
Now What?

You’ve learned more about what may have caused your STI and what exactly it is, but now comes dealing with it. Luckily, we have a roadmap to walk you through your next steps:

    Get Treatment
      Whether you have a curable or incurable STI, time is of the essence when getting medical treatment. We recommend doing some research before your appointment and having a list of any questions you have around your diagnosis. If you have a curable STI, refrain from having sex until you’ve completed your entire treatment and your doctor gives you the green light.

      If you have an incurable STI, chat with your doctor about what sex looks like with the diagnosis. If your provider isn’t comfortable having an in-depth conversation about this, don’t be afraid to seek out another medical professional or additional resources. It can be awkward, but information is the key to a safe and healthy sex life.
        Tell Your Partner(s)
          We know this is the worst step, but there’s no getting around it. It can be awkward and embarrassing and you might feel some guilt or shame. And you might get a mixed bag of reactions. It’s all normal, but this is important and potentially a life-saving part of the process. Whether you exposed a partner or they unknowingly spread it to you, all parties should have the information to enable them to get treatment. As we’ve seen, going without treatment can lead to significant, potentially life-threatening complications. The good news is, you’ve got some options.
          • Option 1: Have a conversation with any sexual partners that could’ve been exposed. This includes anyone you’ve had oral sex, anal sex, or vaginal sex with, generally in the last 3 to 6 months depending on the STI. It’s most important to tell the people you had unprotected sex with, but we recommend letting everyone know either way. Here’s a short and simple script that you can customize for yourself:

            Curable STI: Hey, I know it’s been a while, but I needed to let you know that I recently got tested and it came back positive for (insert STI here). I know that’s not ideal news and I hope you don’t have it as well. But it’s curable with antibiotics, so I would just recommend getting tested as soon as you can. Happy to answer any additional questions that you may have.

            Incurable STI: Hey, I know it’s been a while, but I needed to let you know that I recently got tested and it came back positive for (insert STI here). I’m processing through the results myself and learning about my treatment options. I’m sure it’s a shock to hear, and I completely understand what you’re going through. I would recommend getting tested as soon as you can, and I hope you don’t have it as well. I’m still learning about the details, but I’m happy to answer any questions you might have.
          • Option 2: While we do encourage having a conversation directly with any partners, there are situations where it’s not possible or you just don’t want to. is an amazing resource that will send an anonymous text to someone letting them know that they were exposed to the STI and that they should get tested. 
            Make a Game Plan
              As you continue on, it may be best to evaluate your current sex practices. First, place a huge order for… yes, condoms (did we mention they are the best way to protect against STIs?). Next, figure out how to talk about STIs with future partners. It can be awkward if you’re not used to it, and it may take some practice, but it can be as simple as “I was planning to use a condom either way, but FYI, I did my STI test last month and I’m good to go. Did you happen to get one recently?”

              If you or your partner are having sex with multiple people, schedule routine appointments to get tested every 3 to 6 months, even if you don’t show any symptoms. If you are with one person monogamously, we still recommend getting tested every year or two when you’re at the doctor. You can get testing done at your primary care clinic, any Planned Parenthood location, or through a mail-in test company.

              For those who have been diagnosed with an incurable STI, the game plan will need to be a little more in depth. After you have spoken with your doctor about a treatment plan, make sure you have a support system. You don’t need to tell everyone you ever meet that you’re living with HIV or Herpes, but it’s important to have people in your life that will support you. Even if you never experience further complications, there can be a lot of emotions and processing around your health, dating, sex, relationships and mental health. It may be helpful to share the information you have about the diagnosis, so that those in your life can take the time to educate themselves as well.

              If you’re going to have new sexual partners moving forward, having a conversation about STIs can feel more vulnerable and intimidating. There’s no way to predict how someone might react, but there are ways to make it less intimidating.  
              • Keep it Outside the Bedroom: If you have a feeling a date may lead to sex, it can be helpful to let the other person know before you’re taking all of your clothes off. This allows people to process and not feel ambushed by the information as their shirt is coming off. Even saying something like “I have no expectations this is going to lead anywhere tonight, but I did want to let you know in advance that I’m HIV positive.”
              • Allow Questions: You’re not required to disclose any information about yourself that you don’t want to. At the same time, sex is intimate and there are risks involved. It’s fair for someone to want to know more, especially if they don’t have a lot of information about the STI. If you don’t want to answer the questions yourself or don’t know the answers, send the person some resources where they can do their own research.
              • Be Straightforward: Don’t dance around the topic or be vague with your descriptions. Instead of saying “I have a chronic condition” or “I have an illness,” be direct with saying that you have Herpes or are HIV positive.
              • Come Prepared: The worst thing would be to go through that whole conversation, have someone who is ready and willing to jump into bed and discover you don’t have a condom. We have a subscription option for that very reason. Make sure you never run out and keep a few handy for unexpected fun on the go.
              • Keep Neutral Expectations: Of course we want everyone to react well, have all the information they need ahead of time and view safe sex practices as being sexy. But there will be some people who immediately shut you down once they hear about your STI. That’s not great and it might hurt, but it’s important to not try to convince them otherwise or get angry at them for their decision. Others might have hesitations but are open to learning more. There will also be people who have experience, and no additional explanation is required. Their reactions have to do with their own beliefs, knowledge, and stigmas around STIs. Even when it feels like it, it’s not a reflection on you.
              How The Tables Have Turned

              We couldn’t wrap up without some quick insight into being on the flip side. If a partner just told you they have an STI and you need to get tested, you’re going to go through all of the same emotions as them. Before reacting, take a moment to think about how you would want someone to react. It’s normal to be scared or even upset, but try to not direct your emotions at them. This could mean pausing the conversation and coming back to it later after you’ve had a chance to process or talking it through with them.  Ask any follow up questions that you need and create a plan to get tested yourself.
              Risk and Reward

              Sex is ultimately full of risk no matter what, but wearing the right gear helps protect you against those risks. Especially when you’re having casual sex, protection is essential. Whether you like the classics, a modern twist, or have ever used the line “I”m too big”, we’ve got the right fit for everyone.

              No matter what tools you have, if you find yourself with an STI, let us remind you again that it’s not the end of the world. And if someone you know recently found out they have one, pass this article along. You’ll be getting back to having great sex in no time.
              Additional Resources