According to recent reports from the Health Protection Agency, diagnoses for nearly all types of sexually transmitted infections (STI) in the UK are on the rise. Some of the highest rates are still in London.
Yet, a large percentage of people in the capital are either unaware that they're infected, or won't visit a sexual health clinic. If you're sexually active and live in London, it's worth seeking out a friendly, fast STI clinic for regular tests.
Here are three common sexually transmitted infections, their symptoms – and where you can go to find reliable STI tests London
Now the UK's most common bacterial infection (in 2008 there were over 200,000 diagnoses), chlamydia affects both men and women. In many cases, chlamydia is symptomless until long after initial infection. However, it can cause pain when urinating, unusual discharges and abdominal discomfort.
Chlamydia is also not just confined to the genitals – it can be present in the throat, anus and even in the eye area.
If left untreated, chlamydia can cause infertility in women and reduced fertility in men, as well as a range of associated abdominal inflammations.
Testing is quick and straightforward, while treatment usually involves nothing more than a course of antibiotics. Genital warts and herpes
Caused by the human papilloma virus (HPV), genital warts are still one of the most common genital infections in the UK – particularly in younger age groups. Not all warts are visible, and some can be internal – inside the vagina in women or the anus in both sexes.
In some cases, people with genital warts may notice small bumps or growths which occasionally itch or even bleed.
In women, certain types of genital warts (invisible to the naked eye) can lead to cervical cancer. Cervical screening should be able to check for these types of warts, but if in doubt you should visit an STI clinic straight away.
An STI testing clinic
will be able to test very quickly for the presence of warts. Treatment usually involves special lotions, or on rare occasions laser or heat treatment. HIV / AIDS
HIV is the virus which leads to AIDS. While it is not one of the most frequently diagnosed STIs in the UK, it is still relatively common – and perhaps the most serious.
According to AIDS charity AVERT, around 102,000 people in the UK were living with the infection at the end of 2008. Each year around 7370 new diagnoses are made.
HIV can lay undetected in the body for years, though soon after infection you may notice cold and flu-like symptoms for a few days, before returning to normal. AIDS causes the immune system to fail, leaving the body susceptible to a number of illnesses.
However, HIV testing can be extremely fast, accurate and straightforward. If you're concerned about your anonymity, make sure to find a clinic that offers a discrete walk-in service. Should you get tested?
If you're experiencing any of the early symptoms described above, you should definitely go to an STI clinic for testing – even if only to put your mind at rest. Similarly, if you're about to start a new sexual relationship, you both may want to consider getting tested just to be safe.
If you're sexually active with more than one partner, or regularly practice sex (oral or genital) without condoms or protection, then it's advisable to go for regular check-ups.Where can I find a clinic in London?
While there are NHS GUM (genitourinary medicine) clinics in London, these can be very busy depending on location. If you're looking for the most discrete, friendly and quickest STI testing London, then you might want to consider a private practice. Freedomhealth
, for example, in London's famous Harley Street offers a walk-in service. You don't need to give your name, you don't need to book ahead. Your tests will be performed comfortably and quickly, and results are usually available within 48hrs (or in some cases within minutes).
After all, getting tested is a small inconvenience for your future health and well-being.