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Whittall Street Clinic is featured in Channel 4's new programme ‘The Sex Clinic’, starts 10pm Thursday 11th April.
New Rapid HIV Testing clinic at St Martin’s in the Bullring
Now open every Tuesday 11.00am - 3.15pm - no appointment needed.
The clinic is located upstairs in the St Martin’s Centre for Health & Healing next to the Church in the Bullring. Entrance to the clinic is via St Martin’s church shop.
Not at risk for sexually transmitted infections? Think again!
Many people think that there are some “warning signs” to know who has a sexually transmitted infection (STI)! To them, having unprotected sex with people who don’t have those “warning signs” does not carry a risk for STI. As the result, they do not think that being screened for STI or HIV would be necessary for them. How correct are they?
There is one big flaw to the statement that screening for STI and HIV should only be carried out in individuals with “risk”. The problem is with what they consider as “risk”! Some people may consider people of certain behaviour, ethnicity(ies), age or sex groups to carry “risk” of STI and HIV. Others may use even more innocuous and incorrect criteria.
The problem with all these beliefs is that they use non-scientific methods to conclude that people of certain backgrounds are at higher risk of STI or HIV, and because they have not had sex with those individuals, they would not need to worry about STI or HIV.
The only accurate “risk” for STI and HIV is having history of unprotected sex. This applies to the majority of people irrespective of their background (ethnicity, age, or sex group). Because most of STI or HIV infected individuals remain asymptomatic, the only way to know whether one indeed has the infection is by being tested for STI and HIV.
“But, I thought STI and HIV are common in people coming from certain countries”.
It is true that some of countries in the world have higher rates of STI and HIV compared to the UK. This however does not mean that UK citizens are not and can not be infected with STI or HIV. In the past 10 years, there has been a rise in the number of UK born patients with STI and HIV; including people who have never had unprotected sex with non-UK partners. Because of the misconceptions, a significant number of caucasian British patients are diagnosed late when their health has been seriously affected by the infections. It is therefore important for anyone who has had unprotected sex in the past to have a check up. You can book your appointment here.
“I am too old for all this nonsense!”
People who use this argument are ignoring a major fact; that over the past decade the number of people older than 55 infected with HIV in the UK has doubled. The truth is that many of those considered “old people” are quite healthy. Many of those individuals have started new sexual relationships without using condoms. They are therefore at similar risk of STI or HIV as the “younger” people. The current data suggest that because of this misconception, a significant number of older patients are diagnosed late with HIV when their health has been seriously affected by the infections. It is therefore important for anyone who has had unprotected sex in the past to have a check up. You can book your appointment here.
“I am not gay! Why should I worry about STI or HIV?”
It is true that men who have sex with men carry a high burden of STI or HIV. That does not mean that other groups of people don’t though! UK data show that more heterosexual men and women in the past decade were diagnosed with chlamydia, gonorrhoea, trichomonas or HIV. The current data suggest that because of the misconception, a significant number of heterosexual patients are diagnosed late when their health has been seriously affected by the infections. It is therefore important for anyone who has had unprotected sex in the past to have a check-up. You can book your appointment here.
“I am in a monogamous relationship; why should I worry about STI or HIV?”
Being in a monogamous relationship does not prevent STI or HIV that one could have picked up earlier. If you or your partner has had sexual relationships in the past when condoms were not used, then both you and your partner are at risk of STI or HIV. STI and HIV can remain in the body of infected people as long as they remain untreated. It is therefore important for anyone who has had unprotected sex in the past to have a check-up. You can book your and your partner’s (or partners’) appointment here.
“I have never had sex with anyone but my lifetime partner. Surely, I should be OK?”
The only situation that you can be confident of not being at risk of STI or HIV is that you are the only person your partner has ever had sex with. Realistically, this is a very unlikely possibility. It is therefore important for you and your partner to have a check-up if your partner has had unprotected sex with someone else in the past. You can book your and your partner’s appointments here.
“What will happen if sexually transmitted infections are not diagnosed early?”
Untreated STIs can cause serious health problems if left untreated. They do so without causing any symptoms in the majority of patients. Untreated chlamydia or gonorrhoea infections can cause pelvic inflammatory disease in women and epididymo-orchitis in men. Untreated syphilis can lead to significant complications in patients’ eyes, kidneys, heart, and brain. It is because of their ability to affect people’s health without being noticed that we strongly recommend screening for STI to all people who have had unprotected sex sometime in the past.
“What happens if HIV is not diagnosed early?”
Undiagnosed HIV can lead to continuous destruction of the immune system. Consequently, patients become vulnerable to many infections and forms of cancer. The list of diagnoses associated with HIV is available here.