Before I got diagnosed with Chlamydia, I didn’t even know how to spell it. I went for a sexual health screening with Terrence Higgins just as a routine check, and ended up getting the news a week later. A lot of STIs including Chlamydia can be entirely asymptomatic, meaning you can have them for months or even years and pass them on without realising. You should get checked anytime you have unprotected sex or if anything goes wrong such as a condom breaking, but its good practise to get checked regularly anyway.
If you do find out you have it, it’s not the end of the world. Chlamydia can be sorted with a simple dose of antibiotics. The exact treatment can vary – personally, I took one dose of 4 pills all at once and then had to stay sexually abstinent for a week.
The key thing to do if you find out you have an STI is to inform your current and previous sexual partners – you can either contact them yourself, or pass their details on to your doctor for them to contact them on your behalf, making you anonymous. Your doctor will give advice on the statute of limitation but for Chlamydia it is all partners in the last 6 months. I had a very fun weekend making these phone calls; the key thing to remember is that you are helping them out. Either they’ll find out they don’t have anything or they’ll find out and be able to get treated. Even if they’ve been a dick to you and you would rather never talk to them ever again, it’s a good idea to because they potentially could pass it on to other people.
I did most of my disclosures by phone. I found this easiest because I could tell them all the relevant details and make sure they understood what they were being told but could keep it short. I sent a message asking if they could let me know their phone number (if I didn’t already have it), a time that would suit them to talk privately, and a reassurance I wasn’t pregnant with their child. This meant when I was on the phone to them, they knew I had something to tell them and made the conversation a little easier. The words that actually came out of my mouth generally went a bit like ‘Ihavechlamydiayouneedtogogetcheckedout’. Once I actually said it out loud the conversation got a lot easier. You need to tell them that they are at risk, and to phone up their local sexual health centre and arrange an appointment to get checked. In Glasgow if you ring up the Sandyford clinic and let them know a sexual partner has contracted it, you’ll be seen within a few days. Generally people were pretty glad and thankful that I told them; having the conversation was awkward, but not awful. One partner found out they were positive too and was relieved that I had given him the heads up.
Chlamydia isn’t the best thing that has happened to me but it also isn’t the worst and it’s not unique. Get tested and keep yourself safe!
If you want support or resources the NHS website is the best place to turn to for factual advice.
Terrence Higgins also offer sexual health screening including immediate result HIV testing- they are doing a monthly testing clinic in the Queen Margaret Union, check out the QMU’s Charities and Campaigns Facebook page for details of the next clinic.
Terrence Higgins’ website can be found here.