Why should I get tested?
Sexual health screening and testing is like any other kind of screening; it aims to pick up conditions before they get serious, make you sick or infect someone else. Some STIs (sexually transmitted infections – formerly known as STDs or sexually transmitted diseases) can be present but you can feel completely well. If you don’t have symptoms and you don’t know you have an infection, you could pass the infection on to someone else without knowing you have done so, and make that person sick.
How do I get tested?
Simply make an enquiry to see one of our doctors, and we can counsel you through which tests might be appropriate. We can test for common STIs such as chlamydia and gonorrhoea on a urine specimen or swab, and may recommend you get blood taken to check for blood borne viruses. For women we might need to do an internal examination. There are excellent and accurate tests for most STIs available, though some viruses, such as HPV and Herpes can be tricky to detect. We can counsel you as to your risk of exposure of STI and arrange for you to have all the appropriate tests.
When should I get tested?
STIs have an incubation period—a time period before the infection can be detected in the new host. Incubation periods may vary from a few days to several weeks, so it may be that if you have been exposed to an STI, you may not get symptoms for a while afterwards, and yet you may be infectious and able to pass the infection on to someone else. Some people get regular tests, every 3-6 months, a bit like weighing themselves to show they are maintaining a healthy weight.
Who should get tested?
Anyone who has had sex may have been exposed to an STI. They are common and easy to manage, just like the common cold. STIs are transmitted during sex. Certain infections are more common in people who like a certain kind of sex, such as men who have sex with men. Sexually transmitted infections can be transmitted through skin to skin contact, bodily fluids such as blood or semen, or from mucous membranes (e.g. in the vagina or mouth). STIs may or may not have symptoms, so it is possible to screen for infection and diagnose them even if the person is completely well and unaware they are infected.