All about STIs and screening

What is an STI?

STIs (sexually transmitted infections) are caused by bacteria or a virus. Bacterial STIs include chlamydia, gonorrhoea and syphilis. Viral STIs include genital herpes, genital warts (HPV), hepatitis A, hepatitis B and HIV.

A bacterial STI is easily curable. A course of antibiotics (pills) or injection kills the bacteria. After treatment (it normally takes a week), you are likely no longer contagious. However, re-infection can happen if you have unprotected sex or after a broken condom.

Not all viral STIs are curable. However, medication can help to inhibit or suppress the virus and symptoms. If you are showing symptoms (genital warts or herpes blisters), you are contagious. Treating yourself properly with medication (under medical supervision) will lower the chances of infecting your clients and/or your partner.

How are STIs spread?

Pathogens (bacteria and viruses) of an STI can be found in the vagina, penis, anus, mouth and throat. It is also present in vaginal fluid, pre-cum, semen, blood and stool. Transgender people who have had genital surgery can also get an STI. You can contract an STI through unprotected sex with someone who is infected (from anal sex, sex without a condom or a broken condom. This is also the case with blowjobs or other oral sex acts (on the clitoris or vulva) without use of a dental dam (a sheet of latex).

STIs can be transmitted when the penis rubs against the vagina or anus, i.e. without penetration. STIs can also be transmitted through hands and fingers.

Possible STI symptoms

Often an STI can be carried without noticeable symptoms. If you do have complaints, common symptoms include:

  • Discharge from the vagina is increased, watery, milky white or just yellowish or greenish in colour. It may also smell differently (for example, sour or fishy).
  • Secretion from the penis or anus. This may be colourless or pus-like.
  • Burning, irritation, itching or pain during or after urination; in the penis, urethra or vagina; having to urinate in small amounts.
  • Sores, warts, wounds or blisters on the vulva, on the lips or in the mouth, on the penis or near the anus.
  • Itching in the pubic hair, near the labia, in the vagina, at the glans or anus.
  • Swollen glands in the groin.
  • Pain in the lower abdomen.
  • A feeling of flu or fever.
  • Loss of blood during or after sex.
  • Pain during sex.
  • Swollen or tender testicles.

Do you want to know if you are infected? Take the test. STI tests are free and you can take one anonymously. As a sex worker with lots of sexual partners you should take the test every three months to stay free of STIs.

STI testing

Do you want to know if you are infected? Take the test.

STI tests are free and you can take one anonymously. As a sex worker with lots of sexual partners you should take the test every three months to stay free of STIs.

Do come see us as soon as you can if you:

  • had a broken condom, or sex without a condom;
  • are suffering from STI symptoms;
  • have been warned about an STI by someone you have had sex with.

We will test you for chlamydia, gonorrhoea, hepatitis B, syphilis and HIV. If necessary, we can also test you for genital herpes, genital warts, pubic lice, scabies, LGV and trichomonas. Sometimes we may need to refer you to the STI clinic at the Centre for Sexual Health (GGD Amsterdam).

What happens during the examination?

The examination (consultation) consists of a few stages. Which stage(s) apply to you will depend on your situation.

Answering questions
The nurse will first ask you some questions to understand the situation and determine which examinations are necessary for you. The questions will include your sexual contacts and sexual behaviour.
Blood test
We will take blood if you need to be tested for syphilis, HIV and hepatitis B (1 tube).
Testing for chlamydia and gonorrhoea involves collecting swabs from the throat, vagina and anus. Urine samples can be collected for those with a penis. You may do all these tests yourself.
Physical examination
Depending on the symptoms, it is sometimes useful for the nurse to do a physical examination. In persons with a vagina, this means a speculum examination (internal vaginal examination with a ‘beak-formed’ tool) and in persons with a penis, a swab from the urethra is taken. Sometimes the anus is also examined, possibly by proctoscopy (viewing tube in the anus). We may refer you to the STI clinic of the Centre for Sexual Health (GGD Amsterdam) for these examinations.
How long will the examination take?

On average, the consultation lasts half an hour. It can sometimes be longer or shorter due to specific complaints.


In general, results are known between 2 and 5 working days. You will be given login codes so that you can view the results yourself in a secure online portal.

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