Sexually Transmitted Infections : London Health

The number of people diagnosed with a sexually transmitted infection is steadily rising year on year in the UK, despite Government campaigns to make people aware of the dangers of unsafe sex. Each year, around 400,000 cases of sexually transmitted infections are diagnosed in this country, according to the NHS. Recently, there have been increases in the number of cases of genital warts, Chlamydia and gonorrhoea.

What are sexually transmitted infections?

Sexually transmitted infections are conditions which are passed from person to person via sexual contact and intercourse. There are many different sexually transmitted infections, some of which display no symptoms and are therefore hard to detect.

Who gets sexually transmitted infections?

Anyone that practices unsafe sex is at risk of developing a sexually transmitted infection; however, statistics consistently show that young people between the ages of 16 and 24 are most likely to be diagnosed with a sexually transmitted infection. Although this age group accounts for only 12 percent of the population, they account for more than 50 percent of cases of sexually transmitted infections in the UK. People in this age group also account for 65 percent of chlamydia cases.

Where can I be tested for sexually transmitted infections?

There are several different places where you can go to get tested for sexually transmitted infections; these include:

  • The GUM (genitourinary medicine) clinic
  • GP surgery (some practices do not offer this service but many do; consult your GP or the NHS website for further details)
  • Sexual health clinics
  • Colleges and pharmacies also often have at home Chlamydia tests for sale

The NHS is currently promoting the National Chlamydia Screening Programme, which offers free tests to both women and men under the age of 25.

What does the test involve?

Many people are anxious about what the test involves but it’s actually a very quick and painless procedure; there is no need to be embarrassed as the test results are confidential. Tests for women may involve a vaginal examination and a swab test, while tests for both men and women will usually involve a blood test, a urine sample and an examination of the genitals; swabs may also be taken from the rectum and throat, although this is rare.

What happens if I’m diagnosed with an STI?

If you have been diagnosed with a sexually transmitted infection you will be given treatment for that infection. You will also be advised to let your partner and previous sexual partners know that you have been diagnosed with an STI; this will prevent the spread of infection and allow them to get treatment if they too have the infection. If you are embarrassed to get in touch with previous sexual partners, the GUM clinic will be able to contact them for you.

Preventing the spread of sexually transmitted infections

Sexually transmitted infections can be extremely damaging to our health and can contribute to serious health problems so it is important to get yourself tested and help prevent the spread of infection. The NHS recommends that the following groups of people should be tested regularly:

    • Anyone that has had unprotected sex and has not been tested
    • Pregnant women (many infections can be passed from mother to baby and the potential risks can be significant)
    • People trying for a baby
    • People suffering from possible symptoms (including abnormal bleeding, abnormal discharge and abdominal pain)
    • People that have been informed that a previous sexual partner has had an infection

The other major component of stopping the spread of sexually transmitted infections is using condoms; male and female condoms are the only means of creating a barrier which will prevent the spread of harmful bacteria and viral infections. Simply using contraceptive methods to prevent conception will not stop the spread of infection. Condoms are widely available and are free of charge at Gum clinics, sexual health and contraceptive clinics and some GP surgeries. Condoms also prevent unwanted pregnancies.

Where can I find information on STIs?

There is a huge amount of information available from the NHS; you can search on their website, contact NHS Direct or arrange to see your GP or practice nurse; many surgeries also have information leaflets available for patients.

Common sexually transmitted infections

There are many different sexually transmitted infections, but there are a small number that are very common; details of these infections are listed below:

     

Sexually Transmitted Infections

Guide to Sexually Transmitted Infections

Sexually Transmitted Infections - Intro

Chlamydia

Syphilis

Genital warts

Gonorrhoea

HIV