PrEP protects against HIV – keep other STIs in mind

While PrEP can protect against HIV, it doesn’t mean you cannot get other STIs.

There’s a whole host of bacteria and viruses that you can get from unprotected sex. Knowing the symptoms and getting regular checks is key to staying healthy. If you are on PrEP and having unprotected sex with casual partners you should take a full STI check every 3 months. It’s also important to look after yourself, including checking for any symptoms of sexually transmitted infections at least once a week as part of a regular routine.

Walk into Dean Street Express and show them your PRIME text to get a check-up without needing to make a reservation. If you have symptoms, make an appointment at 56 Dean Street .

Here are some of the common STIs to look out for:

Gonorrhoea

Gonorrhoea is a bacterial infection. You can get it almost anywhere — penis, anus, eyes, throat — and catch it from almost any sexual activity — rimming, sucking, fucking or getting fucked. You might not get any symptoms but if you do it can include a pus discharge from your penis or anus, a burning pain when you pee, or blood or pain when you open your bowels (have a shit).

Gonorrhoea is also becoming resistant to the antibiotics used to treat it. While this is fairly rare at the moment it means some cases are difficult to treat.  Read more here. Read more here

Syphilis

Syphilis is caused by bacteria which can be passed on during any kind of sex.

A painless sore can appear one to ten weeks after infection wherever the bacteria entered the body — (e.g. your anus, penis or mouth). Because it’s painless, you may not notice anything. Then, a few months later an all over body rash may appear. It’s really likely to be syphilis if the rash is on your palms or soles. Sometimes there are no symptoms at all. Read more here.

Chlamydia and LGV

Chlamydia often has similar symptoms to gonorrhoea — pain and discharge — but lots of guys have no symptoms at all.

Lymphogranuloma venereum — known as LGV — is a form of chlamydia with more painful symptoms and is more common in HIV-positive men. People may get a symptom called ‘tenesmus’ which means that they keep feeling like they want to open their bowels (Have a shit) but it’s very painful and very little comes out. Read more here.

While these are common sexually transmitted infections, there are many others — from hepatitis, herpes, crabs (pubic lice) to glandular fever.