Ensuring sexual health is simple

Make sure you're safe

It's STIQ Day, held to get people thinking about their sexual health and encourage them to get regular sexual health checks.

In 2017, there were 422,147 diagnoses of sexually transmitted infections (STIs) made in England. No one likes to think they’ve caught a sexually transmitted infection (STI) but without a test you cannot be sure.

Why 14th January?

STIQ Day takes place on 14th January, a date chosen because many common STIs such as Chlamydia can take two weeks to be detectable.

If your festive season included unprotected sex then you should be thinking about getting tested now.

Also, it's a month until Valentine’s Day, so anyone hoping to enjoy the celebrations to the full should do so knowing that they are infection free and will not be putting someone else’s sexual health in danger.

Regardless of how old you are, if you’re gay or straight, if you’ve had one partner or 100 – just one unprotected sexual encounter could have put you at risk of catching an STI.

Getting a sexual health check is easy and shouldn’t be embarrassing or shameful; sex is a normal part of adult life so sexual health checks should be to. It’s a quick, simple process that not only puts your mind at rest but could protect your fertility or even save your life – or that of your partner.

What are STIs?

An STI is an infection that can be passed from person to person when having sex. You can get an STI by having vaginal sex, anal sex, or oral sex. There are several different types of STI.

The ten most common STIs in the UK are Human Papilloma Virus (HPV), chlamydia, genital herpes, gonorrhoea, human immunodeficiency virus (HIV), hepatitis B, hepatitis C, pubic lice, syphilis and trichomonas.

Advice about sexual partners

If you are diagnosed with an STI then the clinic will encourage you to tell any current or recent sexual partners that you have an infection.

You are not obliged to do this or to give out any information about other people. However, it is best that any recent sexual partners should know that they might also be infected. They should be offered testing and treatment if necessary, to prevent the infection being spread any further.

If you prefer, clinics can contact people anonymously if you do not wish to tell them yourself. You should be aware that recklessly exposing a sexual partner to the risk of infection is against the law.

Treatment

The treatment that you will be offered depends on what STI is found. If you are prescribed antibiotics then it is important to finish the full course of tablets, or else the infection may not be fully cleared. If you develop side effects then seek advice from the GUM clinic or from your GP as to what to do. Do not simply stop taking the medication. For some infections you will be asked to return after a course of treatment to check that the infection has gone.

Do not have sex again until the time advised by the clinic. Depending on the infection, this may be for a certain length of time after treatment has finished or it may be until you are given the all clear from a repeat test. The aim is to prevent you from passing on the infection to others.

Prevention

  • Using a condom when you have sex is the best way to avoid catching an STI
  • Talk to your partner(s) about sexual health and contraception before having sex
  • Get tested with your partner before having sex (many STIs have no symptoms at all, so it’s safer to get tested)
  • Avoid having sex when under the influence of drugs or alcohol, which can reduce your ability to make good decisions
  • Avoid sharing sex toys
  • Some clinicians may recommend that you have a vaccine against HPV and Hepatitis B.

Find out more about STIQ Day

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