Sexual heath among people of typical university age is improving. According to Gov.uk, new cases of sexually transmitted infections (STI) among university-age men and women decreased consistently between 2013 and 2017.
The rate during the 4-year period fell by 17.26% for men aged 15 to 24 and 14.33% for women of the same age range. There are many reasons for this decline and there are many debates into the reason why.
In Southampton if you worry you have a STI, have had unprotected sex, or if you would like a test just for peace of mind, there are 2 main options for you. The first option is you can wake up at 8am to try and book an appointment at one of the GUM clinics to be seen that day. GUM clinics are medical clinics which specialise in sexual health and can provide tests and treatment for many STIs. A quick Google search suggests Southampton has a total of three GUM clinics, one in Bitterne and the other two close to Royal South Hants Hospital. The other option if you’d like to check if you have an STI is ordering a DIY test kit via the NHS Solent Trust, which is what I’d like to particularly highlight.
There are 2 types of test kit available, the first being a test kit that checks for HIV, Syphilis, Chlamydia and Gonorrhoea. If you’re a man who has sex with other men, you can order one that will also test for Hepatitis B and C. There are only 4 requirements to be able to successfully order one of these test kits:
- You must be aged 18 or over
- You must have a UK phone number
- You must live in Hampshire
- You must order it for yourself, not anyone else.
The second test type is a chlamydia-specific test. To get this type of test the rules are the same, except you must be in the age bracket of 15 to 24 years old.
I recently used one of the more comprehensive DIY test kits. For me, I chose it as it was an easy way of getting it done. I didn’t need to wake up early to book an appointment where I would have to skip lectures or work, I could do it at a time that suited me in a comfortable environment and in a discreet manner. There was no paying for a bus ticket, there was no trying to find the centre, no awkward waiting room. Instead, there’s a short and simple questionnaire and then one week later, in a very discreet package, the DIY test kit arrived. I opened the box and followed the included instructions.
The tests were simple. First, take one small blood sample – simply use the provided equipment to produce a small prick on your little finger. This was remarkably not painful, I mean I have had far more painful paper cuts when studying. Also required were a urine sample, a mouth swab (I have a bad gag reflex so for me this was the worst part), and a rectal swab that was mildly uncomfortable to do as you can’t use lube. For women there is also a vaginal swab. Once you’ve completed all samples, you put them back into the box provided and that goes into another very discreet envelope, ready to be sent off free of charge. You just have to drop it into the post box or leave at a Post Office and your part is done. In all, the entire process took no more than 10 minutes.
The results come through by text within one week, and it’s as easy at that! Your health in your own time. I would definitely recommend the service to everyone. To order a test kit or find out more about it, click here.