“Worryingly high” STI statistics warn people of the need to get tested

Over half of Sheffield residents have never been tested for an STI, a recent study has revealed.

Medicine Direct, a UK leading online pharmacy offering a range of medications and prescriptions, commissioned a nationwide survey carried out by Censuswide about sexual health.

The study’s results, shown below, revealed that Sheffield residents were largely untested, with 55% of the surveyed residents admitting they had never gone for a test.

 

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Although Sheffield is joint with Exeter being cities that feel the most confident about recognising STI symptoms (with almost 63% of people saying so), another 28% of people in Sheffield said that they were never educated about STIs and symptoms while at school, and a further 16% rated the education as poor or awful.

Sheffield faired fairly well among the national average, as almost 60% of British people have never been tested for an STI and a further 12% have not been tested in over five years.

As Medicine Direct know formal education is the key to enhance awareness and encourage people to get tested, they therefore have created visuals to highlight some of the most common symptoms.

Hussain Abdeh, Superintendent Pharmacist at Medicine Direct, said: “It’s worth remembering that for some STIs, such as chlamydia, there can be no visible symptoms – but they can be very damaging if left untreated. We really hope to help make it normal to check your sexual health regularly and, if in doubt, check it out.”

An STI can be a bacteria, virus or another organism that is transferred through sexual contact. You do not need to have penetrative sex for an STI to be transmitted. It can affect your fertility, cause pain and discomfort, and in some cases cause cancer (Hepatitis, HPV) and death (HIV, Syphilis).

A university student, who does not want to be named, shares her personal experience.

She has always been tested with every partner she has been with. Once she found out her ex-boyfriend cheated on her she got tested and found out that she had chlamydia.

She said: ‘’I’d never had a sexually transmitted infection before so it came as a shock. At first I felt very unclean and disgusting but I’m glad I did get tested when I did. Otherwise I could have unknowingly passed it on to other people,’’

Luckily her chlamydia was cured by antibiotics and she never had other infections since then.

‘’There’s a huge stigma surrounding sexual health but I think it’s just as important as going to get anything else checked out. I think people should be less embarrassed and proactive about it,’’

‘’I think what I feared most is the potential effects of having a STI for a long time- infertility, and I think people really need to weigh up what matters, a potential long term effect or a 5 minute test.’’

According to figures from Public Health England in 2017, Sheffield had lower rates (9.1) of STI infections than the English average (12.5%), but it was higher than other areas of Yorkshire and the Humber (7.5%).

Anthea Morris, the co-founder of Better2know, warned that STIs are more common than we might think with around 5% of people who get tested having one or more STIs.

Fortunately medication has advanced and an early caught STI can be cured. Nevertheless, the only way to know if you have an STI is to get tested. Most people who have an STI do not have any symptoms, especially in the first few weeks or months.

Anthea said:’’ It is really important that you do not try to prescribe your own medication as this is what leads to antibiotic resistance in the infections. If you are worried you have an STI, get tested, make sure you know what you have been tested for, and follow the advice of the medical professional if you test positive.’’

‘’There are things you can do to help prevent getting an STI. The only way to protect yourself 100% is not to have sex. Otherwise, condoms or femidoms offer good protection against STIs and unwanted pregnancy, but they will not protect you against all STIs, as there is skin to skin contact where condoms do not cover.’’ she added.

Anthea Morris, co-founder of Better2know

Many people are uncomfortable to talk about sexual health and relationship issues with GPs but this doesn’t mean that there aren’t other people to talk to. People in Sheffield can go to their local NHS GUM clinic who offer STI testing and treatment.

You can even get in touch with trained counselors and sexual health advisors. Better2know, the world’s largest private provider of sexual health services, is based in the UK and has 5000 clinics in 20 countries, including two in Sheffield. You can either have STI tests at clinics, have a home test kit sent to you, or one of their nurses can visit you at your choice of location with their Everywhere service.

To spot potential STI symptoms, Medicine Direct provides the Fruit of Your Loins guide:
https://www.medicinedirect.co.uk/blog/post/fruit-of-your-loins-a-fruity-guide-to-sti-symptoms.html

To make an STI testing appointment at Better2know, you may go to:
https://www.better2know.co.uk/clinics/city/sheffield

 

 

Written by Levenez Lai

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