Sexually transmitted infections (STIs)

Unfortunately STIs are very common and you can become infected however few or many sexual partners you have. Most STIs are easily treated. If you notice any unusual discharge, sores or itching in your genital area, or a burning sensation when you pee, you may have an infection that needs treating. Often however there are no symptoms. If your partner has an infection, don’t wait for symptoms – get yourself checked out too. It makes sense to get yourself checked out regularly, and especially if you have a new partner.

Have a look at brook.org.uk   or nhs.uk/livewell/stis for information on STIs; how to recognise them and how to avoid them.

Chlamydia is the most common STI. It is very easy to treat, but can cause long term damage to your health and fertility if left untreated. The only way to know if you have chlamydia is to get tested – it is recommended that you test once a year or whenever you have a new sexual partner. Testing for chlamydia is simple – you just need to give a urine sample (or women can do a self taken vaginal swab). You will be notified of your result either by text, phone or letter – you can choose.

HIV and AIDS

HIV is passed from person to person in bodily fluids such as blood, semen and vaginal fluids. The best way to protect yourself from the virus is to make sure you use a condom, and find out about other forms of safer sex. If you inject, never share needles. Lifeline and some chemists offer a needle exchange (if you are under 18 you will need to meet with a worker first).

If you think you’ve been exposed to HIV there is a drug treatment called PEP that may protect you if started within 72 hours (the earlier the better). PEP is available free from YorSexual Health clinics or you can go to the Emergency Department at York District Hospital. Look on mesmac.co.uk for advice about accessing it.

If you are worried that you may have HIV, you can get a confidential HIV test at a YorSexual Health clinic.

MESMAC also offer HIV testing by appointment. Book online or by phone. Free, confidential and quick (takes about 20 minutes for results). MESMAC offer sexual health information, free condoms and support and social groups for men and women – more information at mesmac.co.uk.