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People who think they might have a sexually transmitted infection (STI) are being encouraged to seek help.
Argyll and Bute Health and Social Care Partnership (HSCP) is spreading the word about how STIs can impact people’s lives and why it is so important to prevent, test for and treat these infections.
The HSCP wants people to look after their own and their partners’ sexual health.
‘Safer sex means taking care of yourself and your partner. It also means you can worry less about catching or passing on a sexually transmitted infection,’ says Laura Stephenson, senior sexual health improvement officer for the HSCP.
She added: ‘If you think you might have an STI, visit one of our services and get a simple STI test. Staff will make you feel welcome, will be non-judgemental and pleased to see you are taking responsibility for your sexual wellbeing. If left untreated, STIs can cause serious health problems for you and others. Confidential testing and treatment is available in Argyll and Bute.’
Chlamydia is the most common STI in the UK but many people don’t experience symptoms, so they are unaware they are infected until much later on. Young people are at increased risk of contracting an STI, so it’s important they know how to protect themselves and use a condom.
Free condoms are available from school nurses, some GP services, youth health drops, at sexual health clinic receptions and by post via waverleycare.org/condoms.
The Argyll and Bute Waverley Care service also provides support services for people living with HIV and free testing at a time and place that is convenient for you.
‘Getting tested for STIs is the only way for a sexually active person to be sure of their STI status and stop the spread of STIs among their sexual partners and beyond,’ said Ms Stephenson.
‘Whatever your age and whether you are gay, straight, bisexual or transgender you can attend your local GP or, if you prefer, go to a specific sexual health clinic.
‘There are specialised GP practices or clinics within hospitals that will provide this. Attending these clinics means you don’t need to go through your GP.
‘Try not worry about being embarrassed – the doctors and nurses will welcome your decision to attend and put you at ease,’ she added.
ab-wish.org website has lots of information.