Hello everyone, I’m Stuart and I’m the sexual health guru over at Cardiff Integrated Sexual Health! I’ve decided my blog will address why students should think about getting tested for STIs. As you hopefully know, having sex can be (very!) fun and safe – however there has been an increase in the number of STIs found in people under the age of 25.
University students tend to be under 25 years old, so if you’re a sexually active student, this blog may be relevant to you.
So, what kind of sexual transmitted diseases are causing problems?
Well, Chlamydia is accountable for almost half of the STIs diagnosed in under 25 year olds. Chlamydia is commonly known as a ‘silent’ STI, as it often has little or no symptoms, regularly going undetected for years without anyone knowing. However, if the infection isn’t treated then it can lead to problems with fertility, especially in females. So don’t be shy, get yourself checked as we can deal with Chlamydia as long as we can catch it soon enough!
As well as Chlamydia, there are other STIs such as HIV and Hepatitis that you should be aware of. It’s the law of averages that if you have more unprotected sex, then you’re more likely to get an infection – no matter who you are – student, churchgoer, sex worker, office worker, anyone!
The good news is you can protect yourself against Hepatitis B!
Hep B is one of the most infectious STIs. Because Hepatitis B is a liver infection, it is spread through bodily fluids and is more infectious than HIV, and can remain infectious even in dried blood. If a Hepatitis B infection is not treated then it can lead to serious liver problems and even liver cancer. However, 3 injections will protect you against Hepatitis B. It’s a no-brainer folks – a little discomfort in the shape of three pinpricks will ensure you are protected. So there’s no excuse for paying your local sexual health clinic a visit!
Sadly, HIV is still on the increase, about a third of those living with HIV aren’t aware that they have the infection. This means as far as they are aware they are ‘clean’. If you are worried that you may have been exposed to HIV (broken condom or non-consensual/traumatic sex) – please try not to panic. You can access ‘PEP’. This is a course of medication to reduce your risk of HIV transmission. It needs to be started within 72 hours of the exposure and is more effective the earlier you take it (just like the morning after pill). The PEP medication lasts for 28 days and is given by GUM clinics or A&E departments. Again, please don’t be embarrassed if you think you might have been exposed. HIV is an STI like any other. Come and see us and let us help you out!
People might mention HIV ‘window periods’ to you. What is that, I hear you ask? Well, it is the length of time needed to detect the virus. Generally it is recommended to test as soon as possible, as modern tests can provide a strong indicator at 1 month, however the gold standard is 3 months after the possible exposure.
Always remember about oral health.
We’re not telling you to brush your teeth twice a day, just avoid oral sex if you’ve had recent dental treatment, if you have mouth ulcers or bleeding gums then please avoid oral sex and don’t brush your teeth before oral sex.
So that’s it. If you are a sexually active student and then get yourself down to your local GUM clinic – the staff are very used to seeing people from all sorts of backgrounds and can offer a whole range of advice in confidence – so pop along and make sure you get the tests you need. There’s no excuse!
And remember – make sure your sex is always fun and safe.