Every year thousands of people are diagnosed with sexually transmitted infections (STIs) in the UK. Many of these did not experience any symptoms before being diagnosed; therefore, they may have unwittingly passed it on to their sexual partners.
According to the NHS, one of the most common STIs does not produce symptoms in around 50% of men and 70-80% of women. Symptoms of chlamydia can appear one to three weeks after infection, months later, or not until the infection has spread to other parts of the body.
The best way to prevent getting an STI in the first place, of course, is to ensure you always practise safe sex. 16- to 24-year-olds in London can get free condoms from libraries, pharmacies, youth centres and some schools through the London C Card scheme.
Accidents sometimes happen, however, and it is important to be tested regularly if you want to keep yourself and your partner safe and well. The reasons for getting an annual STI check include:
STIs are invisible
You can’t see many STIs and some produce no symptoms at all. Someone with HIV may not present with any symptoms for a decade after infection. The only sure way to know whether you have an STI is to get tested.
They can be treated
Many STIs are treatable, often with a course of antibiotics. There is no need to be frightened of a positive outcome.
Testing is painless
Most tests for STIs consist of nothing more than urinating in a cup. There is usually no blood taken.
The results are quick
Results from STI tests are very quick these days, with no waiting weeks for the results.
Keeping free of STIs is an important part of staying healthy, as untreated infections can lead to more serious health problems, including infertility and cervical cancer.
If you are young and live in London, you can now get free home testing kits for a range of STIs. These are easy to use and will provide you with peace of mind. Chlamydia testing kits in London can be obtained free from providers such as https://www.checkurself.org.uk.
Whether you decide to test yourself at home or go to a clinic for added reassurance, an annual STI check is important to ensure you and your sexual partner are kept safe.