STIs are very easily transmitted. To find out whether or not you have an STI, it is important to get tested.
Indeed, one can be infected with an STI without showing any visible signs.
CAUTION: Most STIs have no visible symptoms!
However, if you notice anything unusual with your genitals (among other things), such as :
- unusual flows
- unusual smells
- pimples, warts, cankers (ulcers)
- a burning sensation when urinating
- pain during sex
- any other unusual occurrences
In this case, consult a doctor for a check-up and, if necessary, for screening and treatment.
Types of STI testing
Not all STIs can be tested in the same way. For example, a blood test will detect HIV, hepatitis and syphilis but not gonorrhea or chlamydia. Consult the table below to find out which tests to do for all of them and talk to a health care provider. This chart provides general information; in some cases, additional medical tests may be needed.
Time limits for STI testing
If there are no symptoms, it may take some time for tests to detect an STI. Check this table to see when you can test for different STIs. If you have symptoms, you can go straight to the doctor without waiting for the window period.
Herpes*: Herpes can only be diagnosed if there are symptoms.
HPV ** Concerning the papillomavirus: the onset of symptoms can be months or even years after the first contamination! In Belgium, a cervical smear is recommended and reimbursed every three years from 25 to 64 years old. For the uterus, if the gynecologist systematically does a smear test if he/she notices lesions. or if he/she notices lesions . For the anus and the penis, a screening will be done only in case of apparent symptoms .
A complete screening for the most common STIs is therefore usually possible 6 weeks after a risky relationship. In some situations, your doctor may ask for a repeat test at 3 months to check for hepatitis B and/or C.
The time limits given above may vary from person to person! Don't hesitate to talk about it with a health professional!
What is the HIV test?
Do you know about rapid tests, also called TROD?
The Rapid Diagnostic Test allows you to know in a few minutes if you are infected by HIV thanks to a simple drop of blood. In order for the result to be reliable, it is necessary to respect a 12-week delay between the risk intercourse and the date of the TROD.
Any reactive (positive) result must be confirmed by a blood test at a specialist HIV centre.
The TROD can be performed by non-medical personnel trained in screening. Some associations, family planning centers(www.betested.be) and medical centers offer them free of charge and anonymously. It must be CE marked.
You can also buy a self-test in a pharmacy, i.e. a TROD that you can do yourself.
For your information, TRODs are also available for hepatitis C and syphilis.
Where to go?
There are several ways to be tested for STIs, including HIV/AIDS:
- There are several ways to be tested for STIs, including HIV/AIDS:
- go to a family planning centre ;
- consult a specialist: gynaecologist, urologist, ENT specialist, dermatologist, etc. ;
- go to an HIV & STI reference centre ;
- consult a general practitioner;
- visit some specialised associations;
- go with your prescription directly to a laboratory for biological samples.
Find below all these places classified geographically:
FAMILY PLANNING CENTRES
You will find the contacts of all the family planning centres in Belgium and you can look for the one closest to where you are.
If you are a man who has sexual relations with men, do not hesitate to contact Ex-Æquo which performs different types of tests every week( free and anonymous HIV, syphilis and hepatitis Crapid tests, free complete tests for all STIs). They can also recommend gay-friendly and HIV-friendly doctors that they know well. http://www.trestresbonmedecin.be/
If you are part of the lesbian, bie & co communities and you are a woman* who has sex with women, don't hesitate to visit the Go To Gyneco website, where you can ask for the contact information of lesbofriendly health professionals: www.gotogyneco.be
*person(s) with vulva(s)
TRANS AND INTER
For trans* and inter people, the association Genres Pluriels has developed a Belgian trans and inter psycho-medical network. Go to www.genrespluriels.be