Sexually Transmitted Infection Screening & Treatment
Do you have symptoms that you’re worried about?
Are you wondering if you’re at risk of a Sexually Transmitted Infection (STI)?
We can help with screenings, diagnosis and treatment, while giving you a clear explanation of what it all means.
Sexually transmitted infections are passed through skin to skin contact, some across mucosal membranes such as mouth and lips, and some through bodily fluids.
Depending on what kind of sex you have, and who you have sex with, there will be a variable risk of you having been exposed to a sexually transmitted infection.
In this video, Dr Rebecca Wiig answers some of the most common questions we're asked about STIs:
What can you do to protect yourself?
What should you do if a condom breaks?
What should you do if you think you've been exposed?
Symptoms of Common STIs
Sometimes people develop symptoms of these infections, and sometimes they don’t.
Sometimes there is a good test for these STIs, sometimes not!
There are more unusual, blood-borne viruses which are usually symptomatic, but could be dangerous if not treated e.g. HIV or syphilis.
For some STIs vaccination is available
e.g. Hepatitis B, HPV.
If symptoms occur with STI, it might be a skin lesion ( lump or sore), penile discharge, itching, skin irritation or painful urination.
Whether or not you have symptoms or (think) you may have been exposed, come and see us in our Sydney sexual health clinic to discuss your risk and whether a screening and treatment is necessary.
Sexually Transmitted Infection (STI) was previously known as Sexually Transmitted Disease (STD), but this term is no longer used because of the derogatory associations of the word “disease”.
Herpes is very common, and although it carries a big stigma, can be easily and well managed in primary care if you are getting regular outbreaks.
The distinction between Type 1 and Type 2 herpes simplex is largely academic, so don’t get hung up on which type of herpes you have.
The best way of diagnosing herpes is by taking a swab of the blisters.
Blood testing is unhelpful and should be discouraged as blood test results for herpes infection are often misleading, and unhelpful with management of the condition.
Testing can be done, sometimes on a urine sample (chlamydia and gonorrhoea) though your doctor will probably want to examine you to see if there are any visible signs of sexually transmitted infection.
Human Papilloma Virus (HPV) ~ can lead to Cervical Cancer
HPV (Human Papilloma Virus) can’t be screened for, but it is a very common infection in people who are or who have ever been sexually active. You will probably never know that you have been infected with HPV.
Some people however, may develop warty lesions around their genitals or anus.
All teenagers in Australian schools are now getting HPV vaccination which is a good way of reducing the prevalence in society of the HPV infection.
Why should you 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 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.
Who should get tested?
Anyone who has had sex may have been exposed to an STI. As the name suggests, they are generally
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 you are completely well and unaware that you are infected. This is equally true for your sexual partners!
How to get tested?
Simply make an appointment 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 to get tested?
STIs have an incubation period, which is a time period before the infection can be detected.
Incubation periods may vary from a few days to several weeks.
So, though you may have been exposed to an STI, you may not get symptoms for a while afterwards.
Unfortuately this means that you may be infectious and able to pass the infection on to someone else without realising.
And likewise, your sexual partner could pass an STI on to you without realising it either.
Some people get regular tests every 3 to 6 months, a bit like weighing themselves to ensure that they are maintaining a healthy weight.
Use a Condom!
Condoms are the only real option for protecting you against STIs.
Seriously, if it's not on, it should NOT BE ON!!
For casual sex or with a new partner, condoms are really the only way to go.
Some people complain that sensation is reduced with condom use, or that is difficult to negotiate with a new partner, especially if caught up in a passionate moment. But this kind of short-sighted 'instant gratification' could be the beginning of a whole new relationship... between you and an STI!
If you want to protect yourself from STIs, make sure you anticipate that they might be needed and carry some condoms with you.
Be prepared to just say the word before penetration occurs - Your partner will respect you for it!
As an added bonus, condoms also reduce the risk of pregnancy by acting as a barrier contraceptive.
HIV prescribing - PrEP (Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis) & Post-Exposure Prophylaxis (PEP) + S100 Prescribers
PrEP stands for Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis, and is for HIV negative people taking an antiretroviral drug (one per day) to protect and prevent HIV infection.
PrEP is taken every day before potentially being exposed to HIV, similar to the contraceptive pill that prevents unplanned pregnancy.
PEP is a four-week course of HIV treatment that helps to prevent HIV infection.
It works by stopping the virus from replicating after a recent exposure. If PEP is started quickly, the HIV infected cells die before the virus establishes itself in the body.
We are also S100 prescribers which means we can look after clients with established HIV infection and provide them with medication as well as ongoing holistic care for all aspects of their health.