Sexual health check-ups
If you are sexually active, it is wise to have regular sexual health check-ups. These are free and confidential. Many HIV clinics have sexual health clinics (sometimes called GUM clinics) attached, and some HIV clinics now include sexual health screens as part of their routine HIV care. However, you can choose which sexual health clinic you go to.
Most people with HIV in the UK were diagnosed through sexual health clinics, so you may already know what services they provide.
Visits to sexual health clinics normally involve seeing a doctor or nurse, who will ask you about the kind of sex you are having and if there are any problems, and examine you for symptoms. It is important to be honest if you have had unprotected sex so you can have the appropriate tests. Sexual health clinics should be very used to seeing all the communities affected by HIV in the UK, including gay men and Africans, and their services should be non-judgemental.
Check-ups normally involve having swabs taken from the tip of the penis or inside the vagina and from the mouth and throat and anus if you have had oral or anal sex. You will also be asked to provide a urine sample. These are then examined under a microscope or cultured to see if any bacteria grow.
Blood samples are also taken to check for some infections. Some results can be given to you at your visit, but it may be necessary to telephone or come back a week or so later for some other results.
If you have a sexually transmitted infection (STI) you may be offered the opportunity to see a health adviser. Health advisers can give you information about STIs and how to avoid them and can help you contact your sexual partners, if this is possible or practical and you agree, so they can be tested and treated. Health advisers can also offer referrals to other specialist services.