What are chlamydia and gonorrhea?
Chlamydia and gonorrhea are both common sexually transmitted infections. Chlamydia is the most frequently reported STI and gonorrhea the second. They can infect both men and women. Women can get chlamydia or gonorrhea in the vagina/uterus, anus, or throat. Men can get chlamydia or gonorrhea in the urethra (inside the penis), anus, or throat.
A person may have gonorrhea and/or chlamydia and not know it. People often have no symptoms or very mild symptoms, are therefore unaware they are infected, and can spread chlamydia and gonorrhea to their sexual partners.
Who should get tested for chlamydia and gonorrhea?
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) guidelines recommend that you get screened annually for chlamydia and gonorrhea if you’re sexually active. Testing is also recommended if any of the following circumstances apply:
- You have a sexual partner who has an STI
- You have a new sexual partner
- You have more than one sexual partner
- You have a sexual partner who has other partners
- You practice inconsistent condom use when not in a mutually monogamous relationship
- You have a previous or coexisting STI
- You have a history of exchanging sex for money or drugs
What kind of tests does Color offer?
Color offers a free one or three-sample self-test for chlamydia and gonorrhea. The one-sample test is a urine test that looks for infection in the urethra. The three-sample test is recommended for anyone who engages in oral and anal sex, and includes an anal swab, a mouth swab, and a urine sample.
Is STI testing confidential?
Yes, STI results are kept confidential in accordance with applicable medical privacy laws. If you are tested today, a clinician will call you to discuss your results. As required by law, positive results are reported to your state health department.
What happens if I test positive?
Both you and your sexual partner(s) should talk to a healthcare provider about treatment. If you test positive, a healthcare provider will contact you via phone the day your results are released (or Monday, if on the weekend) to discuss your treatment plan. Antibiotics (given orally or intravenously) may be recommended and in most cases can effectively treat chlamydia and gonorrhea.
Also, your partners may be eligible to get a prescription for treatment without a test – ask your provider. It is important to complete treatment before having sex to ensure that you and your partner(s) are protected.
You’ll also have the option to connect with a Color Care Advocate, who can help you to:
- Arrange for treatment and retesting (recommended after 3 months)
- Adhere to your treatment regimen
- Learn more about STIs
Can my partner get a test if I’m positive?
This free program is open to all Cook County residents aged 18+, and it’s recommended to get tested annually if you’re sexually active.
If you test positive, a healthcare provider will call you via phone the day your results are released (or Monday, if on the weekend) to discuss treatment options for you and your sexual partner(s). Your partner(s) may be eligible for Expedited Partner Therapy, which means they can get a prescription for treatment without a test.
What is the treatment?
Antibiotics may be recommended and in most cases can effectively treat chlamydia and gonorrhea. If you test positive for an infection, both you and your sexual partner(s) should talk to a healthcare provider about treatment. It is important to complete treatment before having sex to ensure that you and your partner(s) are protected.
What happens if I don’t get treated for chlamydia or gonorrhea?
If left untreated, chlamydia and gonorrhea can cause serious and long-term health consequences including infertility and poor pregnancy and birth outcomes. People with gonorrhea or chlamydia are more likely to contract and spread other STIs such as HIV (if HIV is present in one of the partners). For pregnant women, both chlamydia and gonorrhea can be passed to the baby during delivery.
What if I’m not eligible for this test?
If you are not currently eligible, see Cook County Department of Public Health’s list of testing sites in the county, or search the CDC’s website to find free testing near you.