Wednesday, October 21News For London

Sexually Transmitted Infections: how to prevent and get treatment

Find out the best tips for a safe sexual life

According to the World Health Organization, there are more than one million Sexually Transmitted Infections transmitted daily worldwide. Currently, 30 different viruses, bacteria and parasites could cause infections through sexual contact.

How can I get infected? 
The STIs contamination occurred mainly by sexual contact, including vaginal, anal and oral sex. But some STIs can be acquired without having sex, by blood contact or blood products. 

Which are the most common STIs?
Four diseases have a high number of cases: syphilis, gonorrhoea, chlamydia and trichomoniasis. These four STIs together cause approximately 376 million new infections per year. The good news is that they are all curable.

However, other four viral infections are incurable: HIV, hepatitis B, herpes simplex virus (HSV or herpes), and human papillomavirus (HPV). The treatments can give better conditions for those who are infected, but there is no cure for them yet.

What are the symptoms? 
You can have an STI without having any disease manifestation, but the most common symptoms are:

•    unusual discharge from the vagina, penis or anus
•    pain when peeing
•    lumps or skin growths around the genitals or anus
•    a rash
•    unusual vaginal bleeding
•    itchy genitals or anus
•    blisters and sores around the genitals or anus
•    abdominal pain

How can I prevent myself?
The best way to prevent yourself is to use a condom every time you have sex. Reducing the number of people you have sex with, could also help, particularly if you do oral sex often and do not use a condom for that. You should also consider avoiding sex if you are drunk or with the influence of drugs because there is a high chance you forget to have safe sex. You can also be vaccinated against HPV and Hepatitis B. 

When should I visit a doctor?
If you are single and have an active sexual life, you should do a Sexual health check-up every six months. If you or your sexual partner are having symptoms of an STI, you should also go to a clinic. But you do not need to have a symptom to look for help. If you are worried, after having sex without protection, you can go to a clinic and get tested. 

How can I get tested?
The UK has several Sexual Health Clinics where you can do a Sexual Health Scan for free. At a Sexual Health Clinic, you will get your results faster than with your GP. No information will be sent to your GP or anyone else. You can also ask to talk with a male or female doctor. You can check the clinic is more convenient for you on the NHS website: www.nhs.uk.

What happened if I tested positive?
If you get positive for any STIs, you will receive the right treatment and orientation at the clinic. It is also important that you tell your sexual partner or ex-partners so they can get tested and receive treatment as well. If you do not feel comfortable about that, a member of the clinic can do it for you without identifying you. 

Get informed, protect yourself and enjoy a healthy sexual life.