Sexual Health can often be an uncomfortable subject, but having knowledge and seeking medical support, when necessary is an essential part of taking care of yourself and your sexual partners.
Accessing Support and Testing Clinics
The best way to access support is to visit your nearest sexual health or GUM (genitourinary medicine) clinic. Every clinic might specialise in various areas so it is vital to check, which clinic might be the best for you. You can find the sexual health clinic finder from the NHS here. Make sure to put your post code in and select the clinic which is most appropriate for you.
Testing From Home
Testing for STDs / STIs from home is also an option. You usually do the test at home and then send it to a laboratory. It might be suitable for people who feel uncomfortable going to a clinic, but keep in mind that depending on the result, you might have to go to a clinic anyway in order to receive treatment. Also be aware that if you have a positive result, you might want to have a professional talking to you immediately to give you support and point you in the right direction. For more information on self testing kits and how to order them, click here.
National Sexual Health Helpline
If you would like to talk someone about sexual health over the phone, please call the National Sexual Health Helpline from 9am to 8pm: 0300 123 7123.
Sexually transmitted diseases / infections (STDs / STIs)
A large part of sexually transmitted diseases can be cured or you can protect yourself through vaccinations or condoms. Others might need long-term treatment such as HEP C. Currently HIV/Aids cannot be cured, but regular medication will allow affected people to live a long and healthy life. If you are on effective treatment and have an undetectable viral load you will also not be able to pass the virus on to your sexual partner. For more information check out the NHS website on sexual health for gay and bisexual men or GMFA. For more info on sexual health for lesbian and bisexual women, check out this NHS website. For sexual health info for trans women click here. For sexual health info for trans men click here.
PEP is an emergency drug that can be taken in order to avoid getting infected with the HIV virus after being exposed to the virus and must be taken not later than 72 hours of coming into contact with the virus. PEP can usually be accessed via your nearest sexual health clinic, your GP or the Accident & Emergency room in your nearest hospital. You can find more information on the NHS website or at THT.
PrEP is a drug that can be taken in order to avoid getting an HIV infection before being exposed to the virus. You can access PrEP in certain sexual health clinics for free or order it online through trusted retailers. The I want PrEP Now website has all the information you need. Or have a look at Prepster. If you would like to join the free Prep Impact Trial, have a look on this website to find a participating sexual health clinic with open spots near you.