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Sexual health

I have had unprotected sex with someone who may be potentially HIV positive. What do I do next?

STIs can be passed on from person to person through oral, vaginal and anal sex if a condom is not used. If you haven’t got any symptoms (e.g. burning when passing urine, discharge/abnormal liquid coming out of penis or vagina, abdominal pain, etc) we advise leaving at least 10 days since the last unprotected sex before coming to our clinic for sexual infection testing. This is because, depending on the infection in question, it can take several days from being infected before our tests are able to detect it. If you have symptoms, we advise coming to the clinic as soon as possible and to avoid sexual contact until you have been seen.

If you think you may have been exposed to HIV then you need to contact the service immediately for advice/appointment as this needs specialist assessment. If out of hours please attend local A&E.

Please note we cannot reliably exclude you being infected with HIV until you test four weeks from the last time you had unprotected sex. If however, you experience symptoms such as fevers, prolonged flu-like illness, swollen lymph glands and a rash it is advisable to attend the clinic for HIV testing regardless of whether it has been four weeks since your last unprotected sex and to avoid sexual contact until you have been seen. Likewise for other viral sexually transmitted infections such Hepatitis B or C, we cannot reliably rule out the possibility of being infected with these infections until you test six months from the last unprotected sex.

How do I know if I have a sexually transmitted infection?

Common symptoms of an STI include a burning feeling when you urinate, itchiness or a strange smell in your genitals. You can have an STI but not have symptoms though, such as in the case of chlamydia, gonorrhea, or HIV. This means the infection can damage your body without you even knowing about it. It also means you could accidentally pass on an STI to someone else.

If you think you have an STI, the only way to be sure is to see a practitioner. Contact our service or your own GP and ask to be checked for STIs. Most STIs can be treated with antibiotics.